Garden Tiger

Arctia caja

About

A large, brightly coloured moth, the Garden Tiger Moth is on the wing towards the end of the summer, during July and August. It is a night-flying moth of scrub-covered sand dunes, woodland edge, wet meadows, parks and gardens. The striking caterpillars are large, black and covered in long, dense, black and ginger hairs: they are commonly called 'Woolly Bears'. They feed on Stinging Nettles, Dock leaves and many garden plants.

How to identify

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 Wood Tiger and Cream-spot Tiger have yellowy-orange hindwings instead of red; the former has black and yellow forewings and the latter has black and white forewings. The Jersey Tiger has white stripes on the black forewings, while the Scarlet Tiger has white spots on the black forewings.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • July
  • August

How can people help

Once a very common moth, the Garden Tiger has suffered serious declines in recent years, possibly as a result of changes in the climate, and is now only really common around the coast. The Wildlife Trusts manage many nature reserves for the benefit of all kinds of moths and butterflies, including the Garden Tiger. You can help too: plant nectar-rich borders and shrubs and leave patches of nettles to attract moths and butterflies into your garden. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Garden Tiger
Latin name
Arctia caja
Category
Invertebrates
Butterflies and moths
Statistics
Wingspan: 6.5cm
Conservation status
Classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.