Jersey Tiger Moth (Euplagia quadripunctaria)

Jersey-Tiger-Moth- photo-Euplagia quadripunctaria- John Hooton


The Jersey Tiger Moth is an extremely localised species in the UK, most frequent in south coastal areas, with main colonies between Devon and Hampshire including the Isle of Wight. In recent years inland colonies have become established in parts of Somerset and London.

Isolated records are thought likely to be migrants crossing the English Channel from continental Europe.

2019 update – an unusually large influx of migrant Jersey Tigers were recorded in the southern half of the UK. These combined with resident populations resulted in unusually large numbers being recorded, particularly in the south east.

The Jersey Tiger Moth featured was sighted by John Hooton nectaring in his garden in Croydon, South London in 2013.

More recently there have been other sightings of this species in this area and John confirmed a local breeding population by finding the Jersey Tiger caterpillar featured below and photographed by his friend Wayne Notley.

The moths fly both during the day and night in a single generation between July-September.

The insects are attracted to light at night but may also be seen during the day feeding at flowerheads such as buddleias.

Habitats include rough, uncultivated coastal areas and urban gardens.

Jersey Tiger Moth yellow form lutescens.

 

The Jersey Tiger Moth has a wingspan of c 60 mm and is easily identified from other Tiger Moths by the creamy, white stripes streaking its dark forewing.

Underwings can be either yellow with black spots, f.lutescens or bold red/orange with black spots as in nominate form E. quadipunctaria featured below.

Jersey Tiger Moth red form Euplagia quadripunctaria

Other more common Tiger Moths are the –
The Garden Tiger Moth
The Scarlet Tiger Moth
The Cream-spot Tiger Moth
The Ruby Tiger Moth

Moth galleries

Latest sightings

Jersey Tiger Moth caterpillar (Euplagia quadripunctaria)

Jersey-Tiger-caterpillar-Euplagia quadripunctaria-photo- Wayne Notley

The Jersey Tiger caterpillar is c 50 mm long, with a dark body, a broad yellowy/orange dorsal stripe, a paler broken side stripe, black head and distinctive orange brown pinaculae from which sprout light brown setae.

Other Tiger Moth caterpillars are featured in the –

Caterpillar galleries

Hairy caterpillars

North American caterpillar galleries

Jersey Tiger Moth eggs laid by migrant attracted to light in Cornwall

Eggs are laid on the larval foodplant.

Those shown were laid by a migrant attracted to light in south west Cornwall

The larval foodplants are varied and include many low growing herbaceous plants often considered weeds such as dandelion, nettles and plantain.

Recently hatched Jersey Tiger caterpillar

The caterpillars overwinter when very small, becoming fully grown by the following May/June.

The recently hatched caterpillar featured left was reared from an egg laid by one of several migrant Jersey Tiger Moths attracted to light in a Cornish garden.

To overwinter, the caterpillar was placed outside on potted plantain and dandelion.

The garden is very sheltered, south facing and predominantly frost free.

Overwintered Jersey Tiger larva in Cornwall

By the middle of March the larva was 25 mm long and in its penultimate instar

Feeding signs showed a preference for young dandelion leaves.

Jersey Tiger moth caterpillar (Euplagia quadripunctaria) sighting Isobel and Livia McLachlan

Pupation takes places in a silk cocoon amongst plant/leaf litter.

The adult moth emerges in 4-6 weeks depending on temperature.

Rearing small, overwintering caterpillars can be difficult. This is best achieved by placing outside in a sheltered spot on a pot containing the larval foodplant.

Once overwintered the caterpillars are easy to rear.

Jersey Tiger moth caterpillar (Euplagia quadripunctaria) sighting Isobel and Livia McLachlan

 
The Jersey Tiger Moth caterpillar featured above left was found by Isobel and Livia McLachlan in their garden in Beckenham, Kent.

Jersey-Tiger-Moth reared by Livia and Isobel McLachlan

They successfully reared the caterpillar through and were delighted to see the colourful moth featured emerge from it’s cocoon formed in plant litter.

Once ready for flight the moth was released back into the garden.

Jersey Tiger moth caterpillar (Euplagia quadripunctaria) sighting Enfield UK photo Keith Parish

Keith Parish found this Jersey Tiger caterpillar in his garden in Enfield, UK.

It was on a log beneath some Ivy suggesting it was searching for a place to pupate.

Recommended reference books

The Colour Identification Guide to Caterpillars of the British Isles – Jim Porter.

Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland – Waring, Townsend and Lewington.

Moths of the British Isles – Bernard Skinnner.

The Provisional Atlas of UK’s Larger moths -Randle, Fox and Parsons