Garden Tiger Moths
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Scientific name: Arctia cuja
Size: Wingspan up to 70mm
Distribution: Found in many parts of the UK, but not common
Months seen: July to August
Habitat: Meadows, gardens, riverside, open woodland, sand dunes and wasteground
Food: The caterpillars feed on dandelions, plantains and other common plants. In captivity they can be fed on organic lettuce.
Special features: Garden Tiger moths are quite variable in colour. The giraffe-like colouring seen on the forewings of the moths in the photos here can vary from almost totally brown to almost completely cream. Similarly the orange hind wings can have a variable number of dark spots, and in some specimens the hindwings can be yellow. The abdomen is orange with black stripes like a tiger's tail (hence the name).
Garden Tiger moths fly late in the day and at night. They're often attracted to lights at night. In order to deter predators Garden Tigers can make a rasping noise by rubbing their wings together. If that doesn't work they can exude a drop of bright yellow blood from the thorax.
The caterpillars, usually found in May and June, are covered in long white hair. On the back they have short black hairs, and the sides have short orange hairs. The head colour varies from black to orange-brown. They're commonly known as 'wooly bears' and feed on a variety of common plants. Garden Tigers overwinter as a small caterpillar, feeding in spring and then becoming adult moths in July or August.
2011 - London E10 - Brenda Chanter
2011 - Portsmouth, Hants - Judith Mason