A few weeks ago my son spotted and snapped a photo of a Jersey Tiger moth on the side of our house. It was the first time we’d ever heard or seen one.
Butterfly Conservation list the Jersey Tiger Moth (Euplagia quadripunctaria) as nationally rare, but established along in the southern counties of England. It is not that common north of London, but it is increasing its foothold. Well, it has definitely reached Cambridgeshire! We’ve been seeing it (them?) intermittently over the last four weeks.
It’s a beautiful day (and night) flying moth from the Arctiid family, with a large wing span (52-65mm). Crucially for me, when it spreads its wings, it flashes such a bright orange. I keep thinking that it is a Painted Lady butterfly when I spot it, but it is even brighter. It is mesmerising and hard to miss …
until you turn your back on it to get a camera or phone. Then it’s gone in seconds.
So it has taken me a while to actually get a photo, particularly one showing those flashes of amber. Today I looked out of the kitchen window and saw it flitting about …
And then I watched it settle on our potted Abelia,
where it lingered for some time, enjoying a drink …
and skipping from flower to flower.
Never quite opening those wings, but showing tantalising hints
Then it flew up and away and I managed this frustrating shot:
If only I’d been faster!
Now I’ve been reading up about its hairy offspring. It sounds like a good thing our garden has ‘wild’ patches, full of ground ivy, white dead-nettle, brambles and nettles as these are named food plants for the caterpillars.
So we are ready with food and drink. Jersey Tiger moths can establish a colony in our patch any time they want!