Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The Cinnabar Moth

The cinnabar moth thinks it's onto a good thing with ragwort and won't lay its eggs on anything else. When they hatch the caterpillars eat the ragwort leaves, ingesting the ragwort's poison in the process- which makes them unattractive to most of their potential predators. What the moth never factored into its calculations is that humans might class their habitat as a biohazard and grub it up. Stupid moth.

Moral: Don't be too picky about what you eat. Overspecialisation is the royal road to extinction.

The cinnabar moth is a smart little fellow with black wings and red spots. The caterpillar is similarly handsome in black and orange. We don't want to lose the moths so I'm checking the plants for caterpillars before I pull them up. If there are caterpillars I'll let them stand for the time being. By late August the cinnabars will have moved into their next phase- wintering underground before turning into the aeronauts of 2020.

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