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Cinnabar Moth Andy

Moth, photographed at Farley Mount, Hampshire.

Black and orange striped Larvae

Cinnabar Moth (Tyria Jacobaeae)

I often see this moth flying during hot days although this is a nocturnal moth similar in appearance to the burnet species and not a strong flyer. The moths red and black colouring is a warning to predators that it is poisonous and very distasteful to eat so it can fly during the day. When I was young I witnessed a moth I released at home get captured by a bird it soon let it go. The moth was probably damaged but the bird would not try and eat one again. A very common moth which is on the wing from May to July. The caterpillars also have orange and black warning striped marking which is very distinctive and they ingest poisonous toxins from the plant they feed on which is ragwort. Wherever ragwort grows like sides of railway embankments and motorways or any waste ground the caterpillars can be found. Sometimes with so many caterpillars feeding, probably from eggs laid from different moths they strip the ragwort bear. The caterpillars do more good than harm as ragwort can be dangerous to grazing animals so it is a natural biological control.