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Look out for Scarlet Tiger moths

Posted by 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.

 

 

 

 

Unusually for tiger moths, Scarlet Tiger moths have developed mouth parts (proboscis), allowing them to feed on nectar. How odd it is to realise that some moths do not eat at all as adults, but live on the stored fat they built up when larvae – they live to breed and, once that job is done, they die. This isn’t unusual for some types of insect, though, as some crane fly adults have a similar life and also don’t eat.

If you spend time in gardens, do look out for the beautiful Scarlet Tiger moth at this time of year. They are mostly seen in the south of England, and further south in Europe, but may also be seen further north. 

 

Rearing Scarlet Tiger moths at home

Comments

Look out for Scarlet Tiger moths | Gardening News said:

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on 11 Jun 2011 at 05:29 PM

sue1002 said:

That's a beautiful moth Miranda, I haven't seen anything like that around here.

on 11 Jun 2011 at 08:27 PM

richardpeeej said:

Lovely picture Miranda I have never heard of them before either. If one comes in my garden now I will know what it is. Such a beautiful picture and stunning looking moth. Thank you for sharing your information. I think you should write a nature book, If you ever do I will certainly buy a copy..take care my friend...Richard

on 12 Jun 2011 at 06:16 PM

pushkin said:

Stunning pictures.  And richardpeeej is right!  You should write a nature book.

on 13 Jun 2011 at 11:28 AM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Thanks all! Someone else said that about a book. Could be interesting, couldn't it :-)

on 13 Jun 2011 at 01:43 PM

Davidh said:

I have just seen  a Scarlet Tiger Moth in my garden in Salisbury, resting on a courgette plant. I can't recall having seen one in the 16 years I've lived here.

on 06 Jul 2011 at 09:51 AM

Roger Mant said:

A spectacular Scarlet Tiger Moth was "resting" on a wooden chair in our garden but I realised that it's wings had not unfurled properly and it was unable to fly. It's abdomen was enlarged so I took it indoors and placed it with greenery in a large glass belljar. It has since laid eggs, sadly not to be fertilised and recently died. Having spoken to a local expert, the manager of Butterfly World, he was of the opinion that it appeared much more spectacular and florescent due to its condition. The secondary wings are full of scarlet and brilliant yellow colours and the main wings are wonderfully, almost metallic green and black with orange, yellow and white eyes.

I feel very privileged to have looked after this, my first siting, of this fabulous moth which will be my profile picture - when I load it! Thanks Miranda for your article.

on 15 Jul 2011 at 02:42 PM

Miranda moth | Haymanproducts said:

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on 30 Jul 2011 at 02:47 AM

Peter Ponder said:

I tend not to get moths liek that i only ever get ones flicking around the light on a night. <a href="http://www.moths.co.uk" rel="dofollow" style="color:inherit;text-decoration:none" >moths</a> are bit of a pain in my neck of the woods

on 10 Oct 2011 at 01:26 PM

Scarlet tiger moth | Mostly drawing said:

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on 07 Jul 2013 at 10:10 AM