Cheshire Macro-Moths - Cinnabar Moth

The Cinnabar Moth - larva on Ragwort. (Photo by: Steve J. McWilliam) The Cinnabar Moth - Tyria jacobaeae Linnaeus

Imago / Adult:

The adult moth (imago) varies between 35mm and 45 mm wingspan. It is a resident species which flies during the daytime and also late at night when it very occasional comes to light. It is single brooded and flies between late May and the end of July. It is a widespread moth in the Vice-Counties of Cheshire (VC-58) and South Lancashire (VC-59), usually being found in meadows and pastures or even on waste-land and brown-field sites, especially where there is a good growth of ragwort.


A very distinctive and easily recognised larva, usually 24 to 28mm in length. The body segments are comprised of alternating black and bright orange-yellow bands with the head, prolegs and setae being black. This is definitive warning colouration as the larvae sequester many of the poisonous alkaloids found within the Ragwort foodplants and also contain high percentages of Cyanide.


The foodplants consist of many species of Ragwort, including such species as: Common Ragwort, Oxford Ragwort, and Groundsel. It has been recorded feeding on Colt's-foot. The larvae feed between May and July.


The moth overwinters as a pupa (chrysalis) in the ground beneath its larval foodplant.












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