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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!

15 January, 2016

Six-spot Burnet: crimson beauty

The vivid metallic coloured six-spot burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae) emerges in July and can be seen their millions, by day, across Dorset. No, I have not counted them but I assure that is no exaggeration - just visit the flower meadows at Durlston and you will be staggered by how many there are in that place alone. They can be seen all along the coastal grasslands, along the north Dorset chalk hills and on the Purbeck heaths. 
Whilst there are other moths in the family it is hard to mistake the six-spot burnet for anything other than the much rarer five-spot burnet. The forewings 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 (mistaken as a five-spot burnet perhaps). 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. The eggs, however, are laid on birds-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.

Six-spot Burnet: crimson beauty