AT a time when we are deeply worried about the steep decline in our butterfly and moth populations, there is one scrap of good news and that concerns the Jersey tiger moth (pictured).

Once confined to the Channel Islands and extreme south coast of England, hence the name, over the past decade or so this attractive moth has spread northwards, especially colonising Surrey and the greater London area where it can often be seen in leafy gardens. Indeed, early English field guides make no mention of the species so its spread is quite recent.

Nature Notes: An afternoon's nature watch

The moth is brightly coloured with black and cream striped upper fore wings and orange upper rear wings and these bright colours warn would-be predators of its toxicity. The tiger flies both by night and day and is often mistaken for a butterfly when flying rapidly on sunny days.

Caterpillars feed on dandelions and a range of low-growing plants. In hotter regions of southern Europe the moth 'aestivates' for a while around mid day, often in vast numbers in light woodland.

Wild Things: The worst year ever for butterfly numbers

Rhodes in Greece is famous for the moth and there is a region named 'the valley of the butterflies' which is a major tourist attraction.