|Ragwort, Senecio jacobaea, Solden Hill, Byfield|
One insect with an unbreakable association with these plants is the Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae) This is a familiar day-flying moth, unmistakable with its bold black and red wings. These wings are a warning to would-be predators. and any creature which attacks the butterfly will not quickly do so again. The same is true of the caterpillar. These feed on the Ragwort and store the poisonous alkaloids in its body. These remain stored throughout the metamorphosis and are therefore still present in the imago. Again the colours - this time yellow and black stripes - serve as a warning.
|The larva of the Cinnabar Moth. Solden Hill.|
|Eriothris rufomaculata on Ragwort. Solden Hill.|
Tachinid flies are all parasitoids. These use various techniques by which their larvae gain access to a host - generally another insect - and then begin to feed on the unfortunate victim, usually resulting in its death.
In the case of Eriothrix rufomaculata the host is not known with certainty, a remarkable situation for such a common insect.