"How frequently the collector has had
introduced to his notice, by some non-entomological friend, or worthy cottage
dame, a 'fine butterfly', only to find that the supposed prize, usually imprisoned
under an inverted tumbler, was just an ordinary specimen of the gaudy, but
common Garden Tiger." So wrote Richard South in England in 1907.
I have only rarely come across the adult moth in the wild, and I have yet
to have one brought to me by a worthy cottage dame under an inverted tumbler,
but I see one or more caterpillars every year. The caterpillar spends the
winter while half grown, and I usually find them feeding on young, fresh stinging
nettle in spring. They will eat many low-growing plants, and in their later
instars seem to prefer dandelion to nettle. I have occasionally found them
feeding on small willow bushes, but their usual preference is for herbaceous
weeds. When full grown, its beautiful furry coat is magnificent, and the caterpillar
is the original Woolly Bear. Pupation is in a large, spreading silken cocoon,
and emergence takes place after about six weeks.