Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Cinnabar

The Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) is a colourful day flying moth belonging to the Arctiidae family. It can be found in any grassy habitat where it's larval food plant, Ragwort, available.  Indeed, I have seen it in such diverse habitats as coastal grassland, forests and waste grounds.
Despite it's bright colours it can be hard to spot when hiding amongst the vegetation with it's wings closed, and only becomes conspicuous during in flight when its red underwings are in full display.
The caterpillar, with its yellow and black stripe, is even more conspicuous than the adult and can be found in large numbers devouring Ragwort. Their voracious appetite make them a natural and efficient means to control this plant.

Caterpillars feeding on Ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris)

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