Uniquely identifiable characteristics
Distinguishing Feature : The six red spots, not five.
Burnet Moths contain two defensive chemicals or poisons,
hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and
pyrazines, which they exude from parts of their bodies such as the mouth or joints of the legs when under attack by other predators. The pyrazine compounds are pungent, and help repel enemies by smell; they need not be tasted first. Birds refuse to touch them because of these chemicals; they recognise them from their red (or sometimes yellow) warning spots. The Burnet moths obtain the HCN from Bird's-foot Trefoil and
Clover when in the larval stage, munching away but they synthesize the pyrazines themselves.
The six red spots can be quite variable, even merging into a single splurge in some individuals.
The hindwings of all Burnet moths have a large red mark.
These moths fly on hot sunny days; one of the few day-time flying moths.