Like other members of the Burnet Moth group, this is one of the day-flying moths. The six spots are often clearly separated but sometimes they merge to form dumbel shapes. Occasionally yellow-spotted forms occur.
Burnets (Zygaenidae) are the only family of moths (certainly in Britain) with prominent clubbed antennae; in this respect, as well as their day-flying habit, they are like butterflies.
The wingspan range of the Six-spot Burnet Moth is 3.0 to 3.8cm. In Britain this moth can be seen flying during July and August.
This is the most common and widespread member of the family Zygaenidae in Britain and Ireland, where it occurs in coastal and inland locations except in northern Scotland, where it is mainly confined to the (warmer) coastal strip. This day-flying moth is also common and widespread throughout most of Europe (except Portugal and western Spain).
The larval foodplants of Burnet Moths are members of the pea family, Fabaceae. Caterpillars of Zygaena filipendulae feed mainly on Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus, which is commonly referred to as Bacon and Eggs; it is a creeping or prostrate yellow-and-orange flower commonly found in dry grassland. Horse-shoe Vetch, Anthyllis vulneraria, is also used occasionally.
The Six-spot Burnet Moth overwinters (sometimes through not merely one but two winters) as a larva; it pupates in early summer inside a cocoon attached to a grass stem.
Left - the cocoon of the Six-spot Burnet Moth. Picture: Rob Petley-jones