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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

26 June, 2010

Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae)

I suspect many of us have seen the yellow and brown Rugby jersey wearing caterpillars that feed on, and strip entirely, Common Ragwort plants in late summer and autumn. This is the adult moth that lays the eggs that form those caterpillars.

The Cinnabar moth is a member of the Tiger moth family that flies late at night but you do see them during the day as they are easily disturbed. They fly from late May until July and the caterpillars will appear on Ragwort in August.

Ragwort is a plant poisonous to animals and the insect takes up that poison and makes them decidedly unpalatable to birds and other predators giving some immunity to attack.

They are not as common as they once were due possibly to the amount of 'Ragwort pulling' that now goes on. Ragwort is a plant that readily seeds itself and can spread very quickly so 'pulling' is the best way to keep it under control of sorts.