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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.
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 caterpillars reach a length of approximately 1.6 inches. They are dark grey, sometimes almost black, with yellow and white dots on its side.
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.
The scarlet tiger is mostly found in parts of South West England, West England, South Wales, and parts of North West England.
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 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
- Scarlet Tiger moth (Callimorpha Dominula) – wildlifeinsight.com
- UK moths: nine of the most colourful and distinctive – nhm.ac.uk