Garden tiger moth

Garden Tiger moth

Garden tiger moth ©Margaret Holland

Garden tiger moth caterpillar

Garden tiger caterpillar ©Amy Lewis

Garden tiger moth

Scientific name: Arctia caja
The garden tiger is an attractive, brown-and-white moth of sand dunes, woodland edges, meadows and hedgerows; it will also visit gardens. In decline, it is suffering from the 'tidying up' of our countryside.

Species information


Wingspan: 5.0-7.8cm

Conservation status

Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

July to August


A large, brightly coloured moth, the garden tiger is on the wing towards the end of the summer, during July and August. It is a night-flying moth of scrub-covered sand dunes, woodland edges, wet meadows, parks and gardens. The striking caterpillars are large, black and covered in long, dense, black and ginger hairs and they are commonly called 'Woolly Bears'. They feed on stinging nettles, dock leaves and many garden plants.

How to identify

The garden tiger has a chocolate-brown, furry body, brown-and white-patterned forewings, and bright red hindwings with four or five large black spots. There are five similar tiger moths in the UK, all of which are smaller. The wood tiger and cream-spot tiger have yellowy-orange hindwings instead of red; the jersey tiger has white stripes on its black forewings; and the scarlet tiger has white spots on its black forewings.



Did you know?

The garden tiger is well-protected against predators: the hairs on the caterpillar are irritating; the bright colours on the adult warn that it is unpalatable; and adults can rub their wings together to create a rasping noise.