Scarlet Tiger Moth (Callimorpha Dominula)

The scarlet tiger (callimorpha dominula) is a beautiful moth that can be found in many parts of the UK. The day-flying species belongs to the family Arctiidae within the order Lepidoptera, which includes butterflies and moths around the world. It has a number of subspecies distinguished by their markings and location.

Other than its colouring, the scarlet tiger does not resemble any other UK moths making it easy to recognise if you find one flying around.

How To Identify a Scarlet Tiger Moth

The scarlet tiger is considered large, with a wingspan of 1.88 – 2.2 inches.

The adult tiger moth is easily identifiable by its colouring. However, the best way to distinguish this moth from other species is by its set of “eyespots” on its hind wings. The scarlet tiger is mostly black on the forewings (with yellow spots) and boasts deep orange hindwings (with black spots). The eyelike false eyespots are used to frighten off predators by making themselves appear larger than it actually is.

Occasionally you’ll see these rather variable adults with yellow hindwings. The black wings sometimes give off a metallic green sheen when looking at them in different lights.

Scarlet Tiger (callimorpha dominula) moth sitting on flower in summer

Scarlet tiger caterpillars reach a length of approximately 1.6 inches. They are dark grey, sometimes almost black, with yellow and white dots on its side.

A black and yellow spiky caterpillar of the scarlet tiger moth Callimorpha dominula crawling on a dead plant stem surrounded by grass

Where and When To See Them

Like its cousin the jersey tiger, scarlet tigers are also day-flying moths that can be spotted locally in parts of the UK. The single generation flies for about a month (sometimes just over), around the summer months of June and July.

Geographic

The scarlet tiger is mostly found in parts of South West England, West England, South Wales, and parts of North West England.

Habitat

Its habitat varies depending on what stage of life it is in. The Scarlet tiger moth is mostly seen in damp areas and rocky cliffs, but it can also be found in other habitats such as marshes, pastures, wetlands, oak thickets, and river banks, to name a few.

What Do Scarlet Tiger Moths Eat?

During the larval stage, the caterpillars feed on a variety of herbaceous plants ranging from common nettle to roses.

When the larva becomes an adult, the scarlet tiger moth can be found feeding on nectar at flowers such as goldenrod, black-eyed susan, hibiscus, verbenas and petunias. Scarlet tigers are one of the few tiger moths that have developed mouthparts that allow them to feed on nectar easily.

The scarlet tiger moth Callimorpha dominula

Scarlet Tiger Moth Lifecycle

The adults will only live a few weeks, spending the majority of their lives as caterpillars. In the spring, before the larva hatches, it will spend most of its life as an egg, where laving its egg case allows itself to become a chrysalis. Once inside the cocoon, the moth will remain for about four months, depending on how large it is when it emerges from its chrysalis.

Sources and References

  1. Scarlet Tiger moth (Callimorpha Dominula) – wildlifeinsight.com
  2. UK moths: nine of the most colourful and distinctive – nhm.ac.uk

9 thoughts on “Scarlet Tiger Moth (Callimorpha Dominula)”

  1. Mrs Josephine Masters

    I found one in my garden in the pavement it looked dead but when I tried to lift it.. It moved so have named to put it in a large bowl with a drop of honey diluted in water and it is moving. Will this help out? Is it at the end of its lifecycle?

  2. Sandra Dodsworth

    Last year I saw several scarlet tigers moths in my garden. This Spring I saw 10-15 caterpillars on the borage which grows profusely around the garden. However, this month, June, I have only seen 5 dead moths, two with damaged wings and the other three apparently in good condition. I think it is too early for them to be dying naturally and wonder what is the cause. Any ideas and is there anything I can do to help them flourish next year?

    1. Hello Sandra,

      The decrease in scarlet tiger moths you observed could be due to natural population fluctuations, predators, parasites, or environmental changes. To help them flourish next year, add diverse plants to your garden and provide suitable habitats like log piles, leaf piles, or tall grasses.

      Kind Regards

  3. Saw one today in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire apparently outside its usual territory.
    Richard Cowdell

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