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  • Look out for Scarlet Tiger moths

    Miranda Hodgson on 11 Jun 2011 at 11:00 AM

    It was only when we moved to Oxfordshire that I first saw a Scarlet Tiger moth (Callimorpha dominula) but, being fairly widespread in this area, they’re now quite a common sight.

    Scarlet Tiger moths fly during the day and are seen from May to July and, whilst they are said to prefer damp meadows and rocky cliffs, all the moths I’ve seen have been in town gardens, where I’ve come across them resting on foliage, walls or pathways. Unlike many butterflies, they don’t flit about but stay peculiarly still, as if sleeping. You can move the foliage and get very close to them and they just stay where they are and only fly away if you touch them. Most butterflies would have flown off at the first sight of your shadow.

    Staying still is a good trait for these moths, because you can then linger and admire their beauty. The wings, with a span of approximately 60mm (2.3 inches), are an iridescent black-green and are variably marked with dark yellow – sometimes orange - and white, while the under-wings are a rich scarlet, marked with black. The caterpillars feed on a variety of plants, favouring comfrey (Symphytum spp), nettles and bramble, though none of these have been apparent in the gardens where I’ve seen the adult moths; I suppose they must lay their eggs elsewhere