Garden tiger moth Arctia caja

This large, brightly coloured moth is on the wing towards the end of the summer during July and August. The garden tiger moth has a chocolate-brown, furry body, brown- and white-patterned forewings, and bright red hindwings with four or five large black spots. There are five similar tiger moths in Britain, all of which are smaller. The striking caterpillars are large, black and covered in long, dense, black and ginger hairs: they are commonly called ‘woolly bears’.


It is a night-flying moth of scrub-covered sand dunes, woodland edge, wet meadows, parks and gardens. They feed on stinging nettles, dock leaves and many garden plants.


Wingspan: 6.5cm


Classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.



When to see

July – August


  • The garden tiger moth is well-protected against predators: the hairs on the caterpillar are irritating; the bright colours on the adult warn that it is unpalatable; and adults can rub their wings together to create a rasping noise.
  • Gardent tiger moths can produce a clear yellow fluid from the back of their heads when threatened

Common name

Garden tiger moth

Species name

Arctia caja

IUCN Red List status


When to see in Scotland

July – August

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve Feoch Meadows.

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