Tyria jacobaeae is a day-flying insect known commonly as the Cinnabar Moth. It belongs to the Lepidoptera order of moths and butterflies. They need access to their hosts Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) or Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) in order to reproduce successfully. The caterpillar is brightly coloured with black and dramatic yellow stripes, a form of warning colouration used to communicate their foul taste to predators. See these pretty black and red moths on the wing from early summer, in the day and night time. They can thrive in any grassland habitat containing Ragwort, including gardens!
Caterpillars will feed on Common Ragwort and Groundsel.
Adults are pollinators of indigenous plants.
Adult: Mature moths are predominantly black (bodies, legs, antennae); the forewings are black with red streaks on the wing margins, and two dots at the rear end of the wing. The hindwings are a striking ruby red. Wingspan: 3-4.5cm. Please note* These moths resemble many of the Burnet Moths. Always double check markings and wing shape! Cinnabar moth wings are more triangular, the Burnet more ovular with a glossy finish. Larvae: Caterpillars are strikingly coloured with black and yellow stripes. They are covered in fine white hairs. We'd advise using gloves if you're going to handle them. Pupae: The cocoon is roughly 3cm, shiny red-brown and located in the soil. Eggs: Adults lay tiny, spherical yellow eggs beneath the leaves of Common Ragwort, usually in batches of 50-60.
Black and yellow hairy caterpillars may be present on Common Ragwort and Groundsel plants. The adult black and red moths may be seen resting on plants during the day, or flying about the garden. Adult moths are nocturnal and may be attracted to light.
Widespread across the UK and some parts of Europe.
These moths are only a pest of Common Ragwort & Groundsel. If caterpillars become too many, remove by hand or relocate to a nearby park or green space. The Cinnabar Moth is a pollinator of many nectar-rich plants, so they are beneficial to the environment. It's advised to tolerate them wherever possible.
Attract these beneficial insects into your garden by planting an array of indigenous, nectar-rich plants, Common Ragwort and Groundsel.