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Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars

By pamelajean
This will be my last offering in this caterpillar series. Thank you for your interest.

These caterpillars can be found in their hundreds munching away on yellow-flowered ragwort, and their bold black-and-gold stripes make them easy to identify.
Ragwort is toxic, but the cinnabar moth caterpillar benefits from its toxicity by eating enough to become toxic themselves, and their colourful stripes are a warning to predators: Iím poisonous and taste terrible, so donít try to eat me!

Being voracious eaters, large populations can easily decimate an entire patch of ragwort and many caterpillars will starve if their food runs out before they are fully grown, so as competition intensifies the caterpillars become more aggressive and may even turn to cannibalism in their quest for calories.

The following spring, they emerge as beautiful black and red moths. It is thanks to this vibrant red colouration that the moth earned its unusual name, inspired by the red mineral cinnabar - a toxic mercury ore that was once widely used as an artistís pigment. The ragwortís toxins remain in their bodies and still provide an effective defence against predators.


Tags: Insect Lepidoptera Larva Close-up and macro Tyria jacobaeae Wildlife and nature Herbivore macrolepidoptera arctinae callimorphina black and orange stripes

Voters: cabbie, mike9005, Badgerfred and 65 more

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cymru2019 3 17 7 United Kingdom
30 Oct 2019 12:58PM
Well done! Great shot! David
franken Plus
20 5.6k 4 United Kingdom
30 Oct 2019 1:03PM
Very nice, Pamela.
TrevBatWCC Plus
14 13 19 England
30 Oct 2019 1:08PM
Two for the price of one here! Another great find and close-up capture, Pamela, together with detailed info about them. Have enjoyed your caterpillars 👍👍
Trev 😃
30 Oct 2019 2:20PM
Excellent detail and clarity, Pamela - superb close up photography.

dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1974 England
30 Oct 2019 2:34PM
I suspect these two are aiming for a place on 'Strictly'...
brian17302 Plus
10 2 13 United Kingdom
30 Oct 2019 2:36PM
Great detailed image in your caterpillar series, Pamela
mac Plus
21 14 Scotland
30 Oct 2019 4:02PM
Quite a lot of super images in your caterpillar series and also your notes are very educational. This image is beautifully exposed and presented with a nice neutral background. It looks like they are doing the "twist" dance.
ddolfelin 11 103 3 Wales
30 Oct 2019 4:19PM
Good quality shot PJ!
bricurtis Plus
17 2.7k 53 England
30 Oct 2019 4:20PM
One up - one down, well captured.
EMJAYCEE 13 10 10 England
30 Oct 2019 4:29PM
Your write up deserves an award as well! Grin
Fred263 10 United Kingdom
30 Oct 2019 7:31PM
Superb capture of the pair, Pamela.
Fascinating narrative.
taggart Plus
18 47 15 United States
30 Oct 2019 8:18PM
Wow! a very fancy caterpillar, well presented!
30 Oct 2019 8:57PM
Super shot Pamela. My favourite caterpillar as any horse owner would say. Luckily we donít have much ragwort but I always leave it if I see these - they totally clear it. Cathy
RSK 12 6 Canada
30 Oct 2019 9:26PM
Excellent details & very informative information Thank you Pamela.

RonnieAG Plus
13 154 119 Scotland
31 Oct 2019 9:10AM
Superb detail, Pamela: lovely nature shot.
31 Oct 2019 9:21AM
Great image.
LynneJoyce Plus
14 22 101 United Kingdom
31 Oct 2019 6:58PM
Love these guys (as do horse owners). You have captured them nicely.
CaroleS Plus
12 442 3 United Kingdom
1 Nov 2019 12:16PM
Love that comp - crisp and good colour too!
5 Nov 2019 7:23PM
They appear to be heading for the remaining leaves on that plant . Really have enjoyed your caterpillar series and all the informative info provided Pamela
cheers walt
Chinga Plus
12 112 3 United Kingdom
14 Nov 2019 9:25PM
Beautiful caterpillars Pam... A stunning image presented...
Isabel GrinGrin
Saastad 3 16 17 Norway
3 Dec 2019 8:01PM
Well done Pam!


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