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Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar on Ragwort

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This fine example of an orange and black striped caterpillar of the Cinnabar Moth was spotted by members of TWiG (Tattenhall Wildlife Group) this week.

The black and yellow striped caterpillar of the Cinnabar Moth is one of the most instantly recognisable caterpillars in the British Isles.

The caterpillars grow up to 28 mm and feed mainly on Ragwort, a toxic plant.

This caterpillar was doing precisely that i.e feeding on Common Ragwort, a tall plant with a flower-head which is entirely yellow.

Common Ragwort is poisonous to livestock.

This doesn't usually present a problem because most animals avoid eating it BUT, when dried in hay, horses may eat it, and the alkaloid toxins in Ragwort can lead to liver damage.

Accepting that the viewpoints on Ragwort are highly controversial, it is still a delight to see how bees, butterflies and hover-flies are attracted to the yellow flower-head and to spot such a wonderfully marked caterpillar locally.

Click on image to enlarge

For the DEFRA Code of Conduct on how to prevent the spread of Ragwort CLICK HERE.

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