Regular readers may recall that upon moving into our current house a couple of years ago, we discovered that the garden was already home to a small population of Cinnabar Moths. By small I mean no more than a couple of caterpillars and even fewer moths. Since then I have been trying to do as much as possible to increase their numbers, mainly by allowing a few Ragwort and Groundsel plants to grow. Both serve as food for Cinnabar Moth caterpillars and both are classified as weeds in the UK. Ragwort in particular receives a bad rap due to the risk its toxins can cause to the health of grazing animals. As a result gardeners and farmers alike do their utmost to eradicate them which must have an effect on Cinnabar Moth numbers. Fortunately my efforts seem to be paying off and this year we have had a bumper crop of caterpillars.
The plant in the photos above has since been stripped completely bare and the caterpillars have moved on to pastures new. I look forward to their emergence as moths next spring.