The cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) is named due to the colour of the hindwings and the markings on the forewings which make it unmistakeable. Cinnabar is a bright red mineral consisting of mercury sulphide, sometimes used as a pigment. This common moth, which flies during the day, uses its bright colours warn predators that they are poisonous, but only build up their poison after feeding on the ragwort. A native species in Europe and western and central Asia and across the Palearctic to Siberia to China, it has been introduced into New Zealand, Australia and North America to control ragwort, on which its larvae feed. Females can lay up to 300 eggs, usually in batches of 30 or 60 on the underside of Ragwort leaves.
Cinnabar mothCinnabar moth