Worcestershire Record No. 19 November 2005 p. 14


Bridget Oleksy

Scarlet Tiger moths mating
Picture: Bridget Oleksy

On the northerly edge of its range, the Scarlet Tiger Moth can occasionally be found around the Malverns. It usually frequents damp areas such as marshes, riverbanks, and coastal areas, in the south and south-west, but in years of abundance it disperses widely and can be found in gardens and woodland where it can sometimes be observed in large numbers. 2005 must have been one of those years of abundance as I first discovered a Scarlet Tiger on the window of my house at the end of June. Great excitement followed as I identified it, white and yellow spots and blotches on its black forewings, with only a hint of red visible on its hindwing at rest.

Within an hour I had discovered a dozen or so flying around a neighbour’s garden; the plant that seemed to attract them was Hemp-agrimony, Eupatorium cannabinum, and they were subsequently discovered in another garden around Common Comfrey, Symphytum officinale.

The Moths usually appeared about 3pm, peaked around 6-7pm, with a few still flying at dusk. Their numbers peaked at around 30 individuals a week or so later, a few falling victim to heavy rain early July, the neighbours’ cats and even a cunning spider! The two in the picture I photographed on Bindweed next to Comfrey, which was no easy task considering I had a cat butting my lens and trying to catch the moths while I tried to focus! The last ones were observed mid July. I hope the larvae manage to over-winter without being disturbed as I am already looking forward to next June and their vibrant splash of colour. They certainly made my summer!

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