Cinnabar Moths

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Cinnabar Moths

  • Hi Folks,  long time no post!

      I have a problem and hope someone can help.  We've left a patch of grass to grow in our front garden in order to create a small 'meadow'.  I threw seed there ages ago but there is very little variety of wildflowers, being mostly rather straggly yellow things that look like skinny dandelions, about a foot high, that I can't remember the name of (they're very pretty en masse), some clover, daisies and ragwort.  I would like to have a few poppies, cornflowers and oxeye daisies too and had planned to strim the area now that the flowers have gone to seed, then go over it with a cultivator to 'rough up' the ground before planting new seed.  The problem is that we have cinnabar moth caterpillars on the ragwort so I'm not able to strim it yet, and as they pupate in or on the ground, this kind of scuppers my plans to rough it up.  What should I do?  Go ahead with my plan and possibly sacrifice some of the moths or just stick with what I've got?  On thinking about it, for some reason the ragwort is quite short so I could strim above it and try not to strim the caterpillars, but it's the cultivator that really worries me.

      Any ideas gratefully accepted - especially as cinnabar moths are among my favourites!  

  • One quick suggestion Dotty is to dig up the Ragwort & relocate elsewhere, maybe in large pots, so caterpillars can still feed & pupate in safety! Then you can re-jig your meadow although there well may be other species using it!

  • Hi Wendy,

     Thanks for the idea - the digging would keep me fit!  I suppose I notice the cinnabar caterpillars because their colours are so striking.  Hopefully, with more flowers we'll have all-sorts moving in!

  • Mine have eaten all the ragwort! I did move a few from eaten plants to partially eaten ones a few days ago. Too many caterpillars for the amount of plants which is the first time it's happened here. I may have weeded out too many in Spring. I keep seeing the caterpillars on the patio and drive, wandering about in hope.

  • Do you have hedgerows nearby with an abundance of Ragwort where you could relocate them Robbo?  That has happened here in East Kent, possibly due to the sunny weather, more than I've ever seen before, yet when I was trying to raise caterpillar in captivity a couple of years ago I had to hunt high & low for enough food for it!

  • I'm sure they won't go hungry Robbo - apparently, if the ragwort runs out they may well eat each other!  It seems that they're little cannibals when needs be.  I read somewhere that they're being used in conjunction with some other little tykes for ragwort control in some areas, rather than using chemicals.  They're still among my favourites!