The Cinnabar is slate-black with two red spots and two pinky-red stripes on the rounded forewings. Its hindwings are pinky-red and bordered with black. It can be distinguished from the similar burnet moths by the broader wings and bars of red instead of spots.
Butterflies and moths are a beautiful and important part of the UK’s wildlife. They are highly sensitive indicators of the health of the environment and play crucial roles in the food chain as well as being pollinators of plants.
There are 59 species of butterfly and 2,500 species of moths in the UK, with more establishing every decade following migration from continental Europe. They are found from the shoreline to mountain top, and occur in a wide variety of habitats. Their caterpillars feed mainly on plants, but some moth species feed on roots, lichens and algae as well as other substances such wood and fur. Many species depend on a narrow range of plants or food types for their survival.
One of the joys of spring is watching a fluttering Brimstone alight on a flower on a sunny day - one of the first signs that the seasons are changing. A fairly large, pale yellow butterfly, Brimstone adults hibernate through cold weather, so may be seen flying on warm days throughout the year, although they are most common in the spring.
The Comma is a medium-sized orange and brown butterfly. It is on the wing throughout the year, having several broods, and overwinters as an adult. The Comma is a widespread butterfly of woodland edges, particularly during the spring and autumn. The caterpillars feed on Common Nettles, elms and willows.
The Elephant Hawk-moth is a medium-sized hawk-moth. It is commonly found in parks and gardens, as well as woodland edges, rough grassland and sand dunes. The caterpillars are seen from July to September and are very characteristic: greyish-green or brown with two enormous, black eyespots towards the head.