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Six-Spot Burnet

Zygaena filipendulae

Six-Spot Burnet, Six-Spot Burnet Moth

A close up of a black and red Zygaena filipendulae six-spot burnet moth resting on a brown plant

Six-spot Burnet by Ernst Vikne

by Ernst Vikne. CC BY-SA 2.0

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Zygaena filipendulae is a medium-sized, common moth which graces gardens from as early as May in the UK, Ireland and Europe. They love Thistle and Knapweed, which they're often seen perched on in pairs- if you get our drift! They're day-flying, looking gorgeous with their shimmering black and red wings. They can easily be attracted by planting a good mixture of wildflowers. Sometimes they're mistaken for butterflies due to their behaviour when flying. They thrive in an array of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, woodland rides, hedgerows and coastal sand dunes.
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Gorgeous moths that can be seen on the wing from early summer.
Caterpillars will graze the leaves of Bird's Foot Trefoil.


Adults: Wing length: 15-19cm. The forewings are shimmery black with 6 red spots per wing. The hindwings are vibrant red. They possess fluffy scales on the thorax. Larvae: Stout, chunky yellow caterpillars with black spots, covered in fine white hairs. Roughly 3-4cm in size. Pupae: Pupae are brown-yellow coloured and papery to touch. They are conspicuously attached to the back of grass blades. Eggs: Tiny and laid beneath the leaf of the food plant.


Caterpillars will feed on Bird's Foot Trefoil.











Europe and the UK

Biological treatment

These caterpillars are harmless in most cases. If you spot loads on a desirable plant, remove a few using gloves and relocate. They may not be eaten by birds but serve as a yummy treat for spiders and parasitic wasps. Their eggs are a food source for other garden wildlife. You can attract them to your garden by planting Thistle abnd Birds Foot Trefoil.

Chemical treatment

It's not advised to remove these insects from the environment because they pose only a small risk to garden plants.


Moths enjoy the nectar of Thistle and Knapweed. The caterpillars love Bird's Foot Trefoil!
A close up of a purple Onopordum acanthium flower

Cotton Thistle

Onopordum acanthium

Creeping Thistle

Cirsium arvense

Cirsium heterophyllum flower

Melancholy Thistle

Cirsium heterophyllum

Spear Thistle

Cirsium vulgare

Common Knapweed

Centaurea nigra

A close up of a blue Centurea flower


Centaurea spp.

Bird's Foot Trefoil

Lotus corniculatus


Predatory insects will eat the moths and caterpillars.
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