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Six-spot Burnet

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A vivid metallic slate grey and crimson moth seen in countless numbers by day in July


Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

Six-spot Burnet: crimson beauty

Post date: Friday, 15 January, 2016 - 00:00

The vivid metallic coloured six-spot burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae) emerges in July and can be seen their millions, by day, across Dorset. No, I have not counted them but I assure that is no exaggeration - just visit the flower meadows at Durlston and you will be staggered by how many there are in that place alone. They can be seen all along the coastal grasslands, along the north Dorset chalk hills and on the Purbeck heaths. 

Whilst there are other moths in the family it is hard to mistake the six-spot burnet for anything other than the much rarer five-spot burnet. The forewings have a dark slate coloured background with six red spots usually clearly visible but some times the two at the 'shoulder' are fused together giving the appearance of having just five spots which can be misleading (mistaken as a five-spot burnet perhaps). The rear wings are bright red with a slate grey border. 

Whilst happy to feed on many flowers, their first loves are knapweed and scabious. The eggs, however, are laid on birds-foot trefoil and other leguminous plants on which the larvae feed before they transfer to a grass stem, climb up it and pupate. If you find six-spot burnet moths take a look at the surrounding grass and you will find their empty cocoons.

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Six-spot Burnet
Scientific Name Zygaena filipendulae
Interest Level
Species Family Moths 001-033: Swifts, burnets and clearwings
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes