Six-Spot Burnet Moth – Balgonie Bleachfield Project

The Balgonie Bleachfield Project near Glenrothes, Fife, has a wealth of flowers and insects, including the Six-spot Burnet Moth.

For the location of the small nature reserve, see the post “Early Summer Insects and Flowers of Balgonie Bleachfield Project”.

Six-spot burnet moth on spear thistle

Six-spot burnet moth on spear thistle

 

This common moth is the only British Burnet with six red spots on it’s dark metallic green fore-wings (red patches at base are divided by a vein and counts as two spots). Very occasionally they occur with yellow spots or even black spots.

Six-spot burnet moth on spear thistle

Six-spot burnet moth on spear thistle

 

The Six-Spot Burnet has a wingspan of 30-38mm, and is found flying about from June to August on flowery grasslands, meadows, including downland, cliff-edges, woodland clearings, woodland rides, roadside verges and sand-dunes.

Six-spot burnet moth on spear thistle

Six-spot burnet moth on spear thistle

 

It flies with a slow buzzing motion mainly when the sun is out, and is attracted to a range of flowers including thistles, knapweeds and scabious.
It is distributed throughout Britain, but is mainly found on the coast in Scotland. The Balgonie Bleachfield is an exception, being approx 5 miles inland of the Firth of Forth and the North Sea.

The species overwinters as a larva.

Six-spot Burnet Moth - caterpillar

Six-spot Burnet Moth – caterpillar. Photo from UKMoths Website © Auriol Penniceard

 

The larva is plump and hairy with variable markings, usually pale green with rows of black spots and feeds mainly on Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

Six-Spot Burnet Moths pupate in papery cocoons attached to foliage, such as grass stems.

Six-Spot Burnet Moth papery cocoon

Six-Spot Burnet Moth papery cocoon

 

 

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