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Garden Tiger

Arctia caja

Garden Tiger, Garden Tiger Moth, Great Tiger Moth , Woolly Bear Caterpillar, Woolly Bear Moth

A close up of a Garden Tiger Moth Arctia caja on some grass

Garden Tiger Moth

by Temple of Mara. CC BY-SA 3.0

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The Garden Tiger is a colourful, fluffy moth and a regular garden visitor. The forewings are white with brown spots, and the hindwings are tangerine orange with navy-black spots. This colouration is a form of aposematic colouration, meaning these bright colours act as a warning to predators. The vivid, colourful pattern on the wings tells predators they are toxic when eaten. It's thought these insects are pollinators of native plants, although, pesticides and habitat losses have had an impact on population numbers in the last few decades. They love burdock, dandelion, thistles and dock leaf, so you can help these pretty insects by allowing these weeds to grow during in May, June and July.
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Traits

A pretty moth that's a resource for other wildlife.

Appearance

Adults: At rest, this moth has cream wings with brown splodges. It's sometimes possible to see the hindwings, which are tangerine orange with navy-black spots. They have a dark brown pile of hair behind the head with bright red hairs on the face. The wings can span as far as 8cm. Larvae: The caterpillars, or woolly bears, have long, black hairs on the top of the body and orange hairs towards the lower parts of the body. There are white dots that span down the body. Eggs: Freshly laid egg clusters are initially pale green, but these darken, appearing a metallic blue.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Arctiidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

England and Wales; Europe

Biological treatment

Moths can be important pollinators, they're also a vital resource for garden wildlife, like bats, reptiles, and other predatory insects. Where garden gloves if you wish to handle or relocate them!

Chemical treatment

Please consider if chemical control is vital. If a chemical option is sought, check with your local garden centre and please take care to follow the manufacturers' instructions.

Attracts

Caterpillars will eat a variety of weeds, sometimes they're found on garden plants!

Stinging Nettle

Urtica dioica

Dock

Rumex spp.

Comfrey

Symphytum spp.

Hemp Agrimony

Eupatorium cannabinum

Meadow Sweet

Filipendula ulmaria 'Variegata'

A white flower on a Lamium plant with green leaves

Lamium

Lamium spp.

Hound's tongue

Cynoglossum spp.

Common Sowthistle

Sonchus oleraceus

Some yellow Senecio jacobaea flowers in the wild

Common Ragwort

Jacobaea vulgaris

Burdock

Arctium spp.

Apple

Malus spp.

A Prunus spinosa plant with green leaves and black purple berry fruits

Blackthorn

Prunus spinosa

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Plant Knowledge

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
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