Many mothers running light traps have noticed the decline in the numbers of Garden Tigers over the last few years. The is particularly so in the south of England. Just as noticeable is the disappearance of it caterpillars, the hairy Woolly Bears. Last night was memorable therefore when I found two Garden Tigers in one trap. They are readily attracted to light, but normally arrive late. The adults do not feed so they are not attracted to flowers.
Like many highly coloured insects the pattern acts as a warning to potential predators. not only is the moth unpalatable it is poisonous. One of the things I like is that if you compare the patten on any two individuals they are very similar but also so individually different.
The Rothamsted Insect Survey has been monitoring Macro moth numbers since 1933 and the full national network came into being in 1968. The survey uses a number of very large, fixed traps that take daily samples through out the year. The massive amount of data accumulated by amateur mothers also adds a huge amount to the knowledge about moth populations. Rothamsted has a particular project of Garden Tigers and an Open University Ph.D. student, Sarah Anderson is studying 'Conservation Genetics' of garden tigers. Her goal is to see how the changes in the distribution of A. caja has affected the genetics of local populations. This information will improve understanding of the genetics of rapidly changing populations such as threatened or invading species.