Garden Tiger Moth
The garden tiger moth is protected in the UK under the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) as its numbers in the UK have declined by 89% over the past 30 years.
The Garden Tiger Moth is a moth of the Arctiidae family. Nocturnal so only seen at night and generally around a light source. They love damp conditions so are suited to river banks etc.
Its wingspan is around 4.5 to 6 cm and the Garden Tiger Moth is very distinctive due to its bright colours – the back wings are orange with black dots, and if the front wings are in place (they are sometimes missing) then they are a brown and white pattern. This moth is so colourful it may be confused for a butterfly.
You would think that these bright colours and bold patterns would attract predators, but to the contrary, they serve as a warning that this moth has poisonous body fluids.
The Garden Tiger Moth also scares predators away by confusing them. When idle they cover their rear, bright wings, with the plainer fore wings. When they see a predator they flash the bright colour of the rear wings, causing confusion and of course that warning mentioned above.
These moths are most common in June to August having spent winter on the ground as hairy caterpillars from the previous August. They lay their eggs starting in July and the cycle continues.