Belongs to: day-flying moths

Cinnabar moth Tyria jacobaeae

Best time to see: Jun to mid Aug

Key facts

A red and black – and poisonous – day-flying moth of meadows

Habitat: meadows where their caterpillar foodplant – mainly ragwort – grows

Common in southern England and Wales; more localised further north


Glistening black forewings with red patches and stripes; mainly red hindwings

Flutter weakly around meadows or rest on plants, by day and night

Contain alkaloid poisons passed on from caterpillar to adult, making them poisonous and distasteful to birds


Batches of yellow eggs laid under ragwort and sometimes groundsel leaves in June and July

Caterpillars have orange-and-black bands like rugby shirts, feeding openly and sometimes stripping plants entirely

Chysalis over-winters in leaf litter or just below the soil surface

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