Belongs to: day-flying moths

Burnet moth Zygaena trifolii/filipendulae


Best time to see: mid Jun to early Aug

Key facts

A brightly-coloured – and poisonous – day-flying moth

Habitat: five-spot burnets on downland and in marshy areas; six-spots in downland meadows and woodland glades

Six-spot widespread throughout Britain; five-spot more southerly and localised

Recognition

Bold red spots on metallic green-black forewings; mainly red hindwings; heavy black body

Very noticeable from June to early August in slow buzzing flight as they cruise around visiting food plants

Bodies contain cyanide derivatives formed by the caterpillar from its foodplant and passed on to adults

Lifecycle

Eggs laid in groups on the leaves of Birdsfoot Trefoil

Caterpillars are pale yellow with black markings

Chysalis forms in papery boat-shaped cocoons attached to plant stems

  • Main photo
  • six-spot
  • cocoon

Photo © Ken King

Photo © Pat Allen

Photo © Pat Allen