Garden Tiger Moth – Arctia caja

One of our primary aims is not simply to encourage wildlife to visit the garden, but to provide opportunities for species to complete their life cycles. Last year we recorded the larvae of Arctia caja, commonly known as the Garden Tiger Moth, with no sign of the adults. As kids we would often see the adult moth, but sadly these days their numbers are much reduced, although its still unusual to go a whole summer without seeing one or two, especially at this time of year.

The best part of wildlife gardening is the relaxing observation, just sitting there waiting for something to come to you. And that’s exactly what happened on the 30th July 2022 when looking down from a garden chair we noticed the upside down form of a Garden Tiger, slowly laying her eggs on the underside of a small Green Alkanet plant next to our concrete path. We got some video of this without we hope disturbing her too much.

30th July 2022

And here we see her, job done and proud mum…

30th July 2022

We’ve read nothing to suggest that the female moth cannot survive for some time after laying her eggs, but she soon left her clutch and we managed to catch her departing. She didn’t get very far, walking in a disorientated way as seen on the clip below, ending up clutching a bittercress plant beneath a garden chair.

We checked later that day and well before it became dark we couldn’t find any trace of her, hopefully she managed to fly off undetected. A week later and her eggs appear to be all present, a change in colour from fresh green to sepia/brown. Hopefully this is natural and not a result of the ongoing hot and dry weather we have been experiencing.

6th August 2022

We will try and keep an eye on the eggs, hopefully see the first instar of the larval development before the full size caterpillar forms.

DC 06/08/2022

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