Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Six Spot Burnet Moth

Six-Spot Burnet Moth Zygaena filipendulae
Six-Spot Burnet Moth Zygaena filipendulae

The six-spot burnet moth is brightly coloured and is active by day. As a result it is often mistaken for a butterfly. People generally think that moths only fly at night but in fact a number, including the six-spot burnet moth, fly by day.

It has blackish blue front wings which have a metallic shine and are patterned with the six red round spots that give it its name. The hind wings are crimson with a very narrow dark blue/black border. Its wing  span is 30–38mm. Its antennae, rather unusually for moths, are club-shaped.

This is the commonest of Britain’s day-flying Burnet moths, and is found throughout Britain, occupying meadows, woodland clearings and sea-cliffs; it flies from June to August. Most are safe from attack by hungry birds because they taste horrible and are slightly poisonous – a fact that they advertise with their bright red wing spots.

The larvae feed mainly on bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and as Ryde Cemetery is overflowing with birds foot trefoil we have an abundance of six-spot burnet moths.

If you get the chance over the next few weeks, go along and have a moth hunt at Ryde Cemetery and you’ll identify these easily!

Sources: www.snh.gov.uk; ukmoths.org.uk;www.bbc.co.uk