Garden Tiger Moth Andy
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Garden Tiger Moth (Arctia Caja)

This attractive moth can be found along woodland edges allotments and gardens the long-haired larvae are often called Woolly Bears can sometimes be found walking along pavements on a hot sunny day or basking in the sunshine on low growing plants. I once found 15 young larvae hibernating in two of my father-in-laws garden frames that he keeps his Chrysanthemums stored. The caterpillars were well protected from the winter's frost a few of these I kept for breeding. The easiest way to obtain this beautiful moth as this species is not as common as it once was is to join an entomological livestock group or buy from a Butterfly farm on the web.  The caterpillars feed on plants like Dandelion, Dock, Nettle and many other hedgerow plants. In captivity they can be fed on Cabbage.

The moths which hatch in July and August obviously gets its name from the tiger-like markings on the forewings as well as the bright orange warning colours of the hindwings which they flash when disturbed to deter predators. They can make a rasping noise with its wings and can excrete a yellow coloured chemical from ducts behind its head which is a warning to predators that it is distasteful to eat.

The reason for this moths decline in the wild is over recent years is unknown probably because of changing weather conditions and loss of suitable habitat. Where I lived as a boy many kids would collect the caterpillars found in untidy gardens now with the use of pesticides and electric lawn mowers, there is fewer untidy garden which means fewer weeds for the caterpillars to feed on.  I hope to breed this beautiful moth again one day for better pictures and the Woolly Bears as we called them, bring back memories of my childhood.