Six-spot burnet moth

Six-spot Burnet moth

©Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

Six-spot Burnet moth caterpillar

©Katrina Martin/2020VISION

Six-spot burnet moth

Scientific name: Zygaena filipendulae
The six-spot burnet moth is a day-flying moth that flies with a slow, fluttering pattern. Look for it alighting on knapweeds and thistles in grassy places. It is glossy black, with six red spots on each forewing.

Species information


Wingspan: 3.0-3.8cm

Conservation status


When to see

June to August


The six-spot burnet is a medium-sized, day-flying moth, commonly found in grasslands, woodland rides and sand dunes, where the caterpillars feed on common bird's-foot trefoil. The adults feed on the nectar of knapweed, thistles and other grassland flowers, and females lay their eggs on the caterpillars' foodplants. The caterpillars hatch and feed, hibernating over at least one winter. They emerge the following spring and pupate in a papery cocoon attached to grass stems.

How to identify

The six-spot burnet is glossy black with red spots on its long, narrow wings. There are six similar species of burnet moth in the UK: this is the only one with six red spots on each forewing; the other common species have five spots.


Widespread in England and Wales, rarer in Scotland where it is mainly found near the coast.

Did you know?

The red spots of burnet moths indicate to predators that they are poisonous: they release hydrogen cyanide when attacked.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways grasslands are kept in good condition. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.

An illustration of a six-spot burnet moth

Six spot burnet moth illustration

Corinne Welch