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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!

20 June, 2010

Six Spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae)

These vivid metallic coloured moths are emerging now in their millions along the Dorset coast; that is no exaggeration - just visit the flower meadows at Durlston and you will be staggered by how many there are.

Whilst there are other moths in the family it is hard to mistake the Six Spot Burnet for anything else. The fore wings have a dark slate coloured background with six red spots usually clearly visible but some times the two at the 'shoulder' are fused together giving the appearance of having just five spots.which can be misleading as there is a Five Spot Burnet although it is much less common.. The rear wings are bright red with a slate grey border.

Whilst happy to feed on many flowers, their first loves are Knapweed and Scabious. Neither of these are quite out yet but this moth will be around in big numbers during July and August so there will be plenty of time for them to feast on these later.

The eggs are laid on Bird's-foot Trefoil and other leguminous plants on which the larvae feed before they transfer to a grass stem, climb up it and pupate. If you find Six Spot Burnet moths take a look at the surrounding grass and you will find their empty cocoons.