Jersey Tiger moths

by Richard Jones

It's eagerness to fly is probably linked to the fact that it is unlikely to be eaten by predators - its bright colours are a warning of poisonous and distasteful chemicals inside its body...

Jersey Tiger moth on an ivy leafWe are now positively awash with Jersey Tiger moths, Euplagia quadripunctaria. Named for its abundance on one particular of the Channel Islands, it had been well established in South Devon and apparently spreading along the coast into Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex when it first appeared in London around 2005.

I've now given up noting when I see it, since this is inevitably many times a day. A flash of orange - no it's not a painted lady, it's the tiger. It's not a true day-flying moth, since it does not flit from flower to flower like a butterfly. But it flies readily if disturbed from its not-very-camouflaged position on a leaf, wall, fence, window, car, no-parking sign, bollard or brightly coloured plastic bin full of winter salt/grit mix.

It's eagerness to fly is probably linked to the fact that it is unlikely to be eaten by predators - its bright colours are a warning of poisonous and distasteful chemicals inside its body. So it takes to the wing without a care and dashes brazenly about to a new roost.

That it is now very common in South London can be seen from the comments following the first time I mentioned it on the blog, in 2007. And when BBC Jersey put up an item about it recently it was another group of south Londoners who again reported how widespread it is here.

Two Jersey Tiger moths mating in a petri-dishA few days ago I was startled to see what might have been a six-pointed star-fish adhering to the outside of the bathroom window. I scooped it up in a plastic dish and, yes, it was another mating pair. I've yet to see the spiky black orange and white caterpillars, but I expect them to be around shortly.

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Gardeners' World Web User 05/08/2009 at 19:14

Have noted more Tiger Moths in my South London area this year (2009) than at any other time over the years I have 'amateurishly' observed butterflies and moths. Beautiful as they are they seem rather a stupid moth since when disturbed 'they blunder-about not knowing which, what, where they should be doing or going'.

Gardeners' World Web User 05/08/2009 at 19:31

Continuing last post: I also distubed from my South London Garden at the same time an even more exotic flutterer which on seeing, my heart missed a beat. I could almost believe I was witnessing A Camberwell Beauty. Familiar with Admirals and Peacocks in flight it wasn't them. It was Large and could have been a Large Tortoishell. Like the Jersey Tiger it blundered about between the rear space between my house and the neighbour's. I muttered to myself as I eyed it going this-way-and-that between the houses craning my head as if I was at a tennis match "Stay!" "Settle!" "Let me have a closer look at you!" But, it sailed over the roofs and was gone. I recall clearly the maroon underwings and clear white dots of speckling along wing edges. What The Hell Was It. Another type of Tiger?

Gardeners' World Web User 07/08/2009 at 06:33

Help I have alot of bees in the garden normally but the past few months ive seen quite a few dying, whats happening?

Gardeners' World Web User 07/08/2009 at 19:25

My plot has had vast numbers of larvae of the cinnabar moth this year in their striped ruby jerseys. I thought they had a very specific food source (was it ragwort or groundsel?)but this year they have been on everything. Not doing any apparent damage, and I wouldn't deliberately get rid of them, but they have made weeding rather more challenging than usual!

Gardeners' World Web User 08/08/2009 at 15:53

I have scarlet tiger moths in my garden - last year they used my shed door to wait for several days til a mate appeared, not moving even when I opened and shut the door! The caterpillars overwintered well, and devoured all my early comfrey plants. They look very exotic in their black and red flying round in the day time!

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