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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!

19 February, 2016

Cinnabar Moth: Jacobs poison

The cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) is a member of the tiger-moth family that flies late at night but you do frequently see them during the day, they are easily disturbed. They fly from late May until July and the caterpillars will appear on common ragwort (Scenecio jacobaea) in August so little wonder that the cinnabar moth is named Tyria jacobaeae; the Tyria of the common ragwort.
The adult moth is a fantastic metallic black and red colour and the caterpillars are the familar yellow and brown hooped caterpillars that feed on, and entirely strip, ragwort plants in late summer. Ragwort is a plant poisonous to cattle and the insect takes up that poison which makes them decidedly unpalatable to birds and other predators giving some immunity to attack. However, our modern day obsession with ragwort pulling means they are not as common as they once were.

Cinnabar Moth: Jacobs poison