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CINNABAR

MOTH

Tyria jacobaeae

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31st May 2007, RSPB Reserve, Walney Island, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
This striking moth lays its eggs on Ragwort.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The Cinnabar caterpillar is born on and eats Ragwort, here Common Ragwort. The striking zebra stripes act as a warning to predators, apart from, that is, its sibblings, who may turn cannabilistic if they nibble all the way through the Ragwort, leaving them starving.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Having had breakfast now tucking in to lunch. The fact that Ragworts contain innumerable poisons including sesquiterpene lactones seems not to worry them, they thrive on it. The Ragworts' potent chemical defences are powerless against it. Indeed, the opposite is the case, the caterpillar uses the poisonous pyrolizidine alkaloids such as Senecionine as part of its defences. It is thus pharmacophagous, eating plants to harvest the poisons as defence against predators.


Some similarities to : Burnet Moths: Six-Spot Burnet and the 5-Spot Burnet.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The striking black and red pattern.

For further discussion on the pyrrolizidine alkaloids safely ingested by insects for use as weapons against enemies, see Field Fleawort.


  Tyria jacobaeae  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Arctidae  

CINNABAR

MOTH

Tyria jacobaeae

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