Ruby Tigers!

Old Moor & Dearne Valley

Old Moor & Dearne Valley
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Dearne Valley

Ruby Tigers!

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I thought it might be nice to have a look at the ruby tiger moth caterpillar which was found by 'Nicolavolunteer' on the reserve yesterday.  They are lovely and well worth a further look....

A fantastic mass of coppery coloured fuzz!

I have loved caterpillars, moths and butterflies for years, since I was a kid. This is exactly the kind of caterpillar which used to account for the red, swollen eyes I had most summers as I couldn't resist handling them despite being allergic to the tiny, fine hairs!  :D  I was a lovely child!......

Moths and butterflies have various strategies to get them through the winter months, when many food plants for the larva/caterpillar die back.  Some over-winter as eggs, some hibernate as adults. It is obvious that the ruby tiger moth winters as a caterpillar.  The natural concentration of chemicals like potassium and sodium in it's blood prevent it from freezing solid, so it just slows right down and becomes inactive to save energy.  Come a mild spell at the end of winter, like yesterday, they are able to warm up and go searching for any food plants around, so they can get on with the caterpillars main mission: eating!

They have catholic tastes and eat many common herbs and plants such as groundsel, ragwort and as here, common plantain.

Their broad range of potential food plants makes it easier to find suitable food, as soon as plants begin to grow again in the early spring. So it helps make the caterpillar stage a viable one in which to over-winter. It's interesting too, that many of the plants which we consider 'weeds' in our gardens, provide essential food for these beautiful insects. Just see how they look when they become a moth......

What a stunner!  The ruby tiger moth.

This moth can be found across Britain and is on the wing from April through to September, usually. Beautiful.


  • I'm a coward when it comes to creepy crawlies and stuff............but Eric's worse!

  • Awwwwwwwww, Mel! Where's the fun in that, ey?!


  • Very nice..........but dont fetch em near me.....I dont do things that wriggle, bite sting or change into other things!