In the case of the Garden Tiger Moth, beauty really is only skin deep. The colorful pattern is actually a warning sign to predators that the moth is poisonous. 

📍The poison is acquired during the larval stage of the lifecycle. 
As in the famous book “The Hungry Caterpillar,” 🐛 this is the main feeding stage. 

📍Although the larvae have a generalist diet, they acquire poison from eating plants containing toxins known as Pyrrolizidine alkaloids. 

📍The larvae convert these plant-derived toxins into insect-specific toxins such as callimorphine.

As illustrated, the lifecycle of the Garden Tiger Moth: 

🟠  Eggs hatch in late summer, as the previous generation of adults dies.

🟠 The insects survive winter as small larvae; in spring they begin eating and grow into a large caterpillars known as “Woolly Bears” due to the hairs on their back.

🟠 By June the caterpillars explore low vegetation and spin a cocoon there from their hairs and silk. 

🟠 In summer, with the metamorphosis complete, the adult moth emerges.

Thank you to 🇩🇰 Brian Dall Schyth, a high school teacher and freelance Illustrator; owner of ExplainWays. This illustration was made for the Museum of Natural History in Aarhus as part of the 99 species project. 

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