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Cinnabar Snapshot

Project Lead: Linda Birkin


Running: Closed (for 2023)

Currently closed

What is the Cinnabar Snapshot? 

The cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) is a distinctive and beautiful species of moth native to the UK. While it is nocturnal, it is easily disturbed during the day and will fly in sunlight until it settles. Its caterpillars are found on their foodplant ragwort and are equally distinctive: chunky, black-and-orange striped. We are passing through peak flowering season for ragwort, so now is a perfect time to do a quick cinnabar caterpillar survey.


We want to do more short-timescale, focused projects with the Buzz Club, and a cinnabar snapshot is a good place to start! The plan is to repeat this - and other 'Snapshot' projects - in future years.

How can you help?

Project participants will go out and find flowering ragwort, and count the number of cinnabar moth caterpillars found on the plant. We ask that folks find a minimum of five plants - ideally ten - to count.

We do want negative / zero counts - if you find 10 plants with no caterpillars on them, that is also valuable data. You can also do more than one count (of different plants) - please indicate this on your results submission.

What do you get out of it?

By taking part in this project you will help us to build up a picture of how cinnabar populations are changing over time, and where in the country they are thriving. You will also help us develop a new type of shorter 'Snapshot' project for the Buzz Club!

Note: The ragwort plant contains defence chemicals called alkaloids, which the cinnabar caterpillars injest and use for their own defence. Both the plant and the caterpillars can be an irritant if touched with bare hands. We do not need you to touch or collect the caterpillars - just count them!

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