Garden Tiger Arctiidae

Arctia caja (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan 50-78mm. A colourful, distinctive species. Both sexes similar in appearance. Forewings are dark chocolate brown with ochreous white streaks and patches, which are variable in size and shape. Hindwings are orange-red with a series of deep blue-centred, black spots. Abdomen is red with black bars on the dorsal side. The scarlet hindwings are a distinctive feature of this species, which it readily displays when disturbed. Some interesting aberrations, in which most of the chocolate brown markings on the forewings have been replaced with white, have been recorded from the coastal locality of Killard Point NNR, Down.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: From late June until the latter half of August.

Status: Widespread and commonly encountered throughout all counties.

Ecology: Found in a wide variety of habitats including woodland, bogs, coastal heaths and dunes. The adults are seldom found by day but appear frequently at light. Many of the records are of larvae, which are commonly referred to as 'woolly bears' or 'granny greybeards'. These are often seen by non-naturalists, wandering across paths and roads in search of a suitable pupation site. The distinctive larvae feed from September until June of the following year on a wide variety of wild and garden plants. It overwinters as a larva.

World Distribution: Across the northern Palaearctic region.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 2057 Agassiz number: 72.026

Additional information:

UK Moths account


 Thompson, R. S. & Nelson, B., 2003 (Oct 2). [In] The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland