Friday, August 1, 2014

Cinnabar moths and ragwort

The spread of cinnabar moths near Durham city has continued unabated this year. These moths were, until recently, uncommon in County Durham, especially away from the coast, but over the course of five years have spread from a single field to many, even when these have been separated by woodland. This year there were thousands of their stripy caterpillars on their ragwort food plant.

Livestock owners tend to detest ragwort, in cinnabar caterpillar's food source, because it can be toxic to horses and cattle. There's a very lively discussion of the pros and cons of the plant appended to Rob Yarham's thought-provoking Guardian Country Diary today


  1. Interesting post and excellent photos, Phil. And many thanks for the link to the 'lively' debate! Very informative.

    1. Nothing like ragwort to get people hot under the collar - unless it's grey squirrels, Himalayan balsam, ivy, magpies .... or any of those successful species that some people love to hate!