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Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars

Cinnabar Moths (Tyria jacobaeae) larvae feed on Ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris, syn. Senecio jacobaea)

During July you can find ragwort covered with these stripy, colourful caterpillars.

The larvae absorb alkaloids from the plant to make themselves taste bad, thus making them unattractive to predators. The black and yellow stripes are a warning to any predator who may wish to eat them.

They are so good at eating ragwort that they have been used successfully to control the plant's numbers in the United States and New Zealand.



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