UK – Scarlet Tiger Moth

2022 July 10

Continuing with pictures from Sandy, Sam, and Rosie’s trip to the UK in June, Sam photographed this very striking moth in the Cotswolds on June 24, 2022. She says that when it spread its wings, the hindwings were bright red (although it wouldn’t show them long enough for her to get a picture).

Getting an ID on this one was a snap, all I needed to do was search “British Moths” and boom, there it was. It’s a Scarlet_tiger_moth, Callimorpha dominula. These are in the same family as the many species of tiger moths that we have found around our property over the years.

They are found all through Europe and much of Asia. and in the UK they are apparently most common in the southwestern parts, particularly in wet areas. Which, no surprise, is pretty much where this one was found.

So, they are fairly common, and are easy to spot because they fly in the daytime. Given how visually striking they are, they have got to be horribly unpleasant to eat, but I’m not sure what their toxin is. Their caterpillars are black and a bit bristly with a row of yellow spots down their backs, and, let’s see, they eat – Comfrey (toxic!), Green Alkanet (not known to be toxic, but not clear that anyone really checked carefully), and Common Nettle (well known for its venomous stinging hairs). So, they have plenty of scope for either sequestering toxins from their food plants, or producing toxins in their own bodies. And in fact, it sounds like tiger moths in general go in for sequestering toxic alkaloids from their food plants.

So, short summary: look, but don’t eat.

One Response
  1. July 16, 2022

    WOW! Now that’s a distinctive moth.

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