Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cinnabar Moth

A number of years ago the cinnabar moths were introduced to San Juan County because they eat tansy ragwort an introduced weed that is harmful to livestock. We did at one point have tansy growing in our fields probably brought in inadvertently with hay. Joel and Siri would go out each spring and search for the plants to remove them. It is easy to find them when they are in flower with their characteristic yellow bloom, but Siri as a small child was especially good at spotting the plants when they were small and not blooming. Between the two of them they eliminated it from our place. And then a few years ago the moths showed up here. As they were never actually introduced to this small island they have to have flown over from one of the larger islands.

They are incredibly beautiful with their bright red and black wings.

And the caterpillars are also wonderful, yellow and black striped. Although we do not have any tansy for them to feed on, they will also feed on a common weed in the senecio family and as we like to keep them around just in case tansy reappears here we make a point of not pulling all their favorite weeds out of the garden.

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