Butterflies and Moths of Southern Vancouver Island--Jeremy B. Tatum



Arctia caja

Garden Tiger


"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.

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