Zygaena filipendulae Linnaeus, 1758 ♂♀
Common names: Six-spot Burnet [En], Zygène de la spirée, Zygène de la filipendule [Fr], Sechsfleck-Widderchen [De], Ziygena de las seis puntos [Sp], Sint-jansvlinder, Bloeddropje [Nl], Altıbenekli Guve [Tu]
Hamoir, LIEGE ● Belgium
Description: The sexes are similar and have a wingspan of 30-40 mm. The forewings are dark metallic green with 6 vivid red spots (sometimes the spots are merged causing possible confusion with other species such as Five-spot Burnet). Occasionally the spots are yellow or even black. The hindwings are red with a blackish fringe.
Habitat: Meadows, woodland clearings and sea-cliffs
Biology: It flies from June to August and are attracted to a wide variety of flowers such as knapweed and scabious as well as the larval food plants bird's foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and clover. The species overwinters as a larva. The larva is plump and hairy with variable markings, usually pale green with rows of black spots. It pupates in a papery cocoon attached to foliage.
L. corniculatus and Z. filipendulae both contain the bioactive compounds cyanogenic glucosides (CNglcs) which can liberate toxic hydrogen cyanide by hydrolysis. While CNglcs are widespread in plants, they are in general rare in arthropods. Within insects, particular within butterflies and moths, several species are known to sequester or de novo biosynthesize CNglcs. Moths belonging to the Zygaena family are the only insects known, able to de novo biosynthesize as well as to sequester the same CNglcs.
Six-spot Burnets males transfer a nuptial gift of CNglcs to females during mating, and that females prefer males with a higher content of CNglcs for mating…
Zagrobelny M., Olsen CE., Bak S., Møller BL. (2007) Intimate roles for cyanogenic glucosides in the life cycle of Zygaena filipendulae (Lepidoptera, Zygaenidae). Insect Biochem Mol Biol, 37:1189-1197. [Full Text]
Zagrobelny M., Scheibye-Alsing K., Bjerg Jensen N., Møller BL.,Gorodkin J., Bak S. (2009) 454 pyrosequencing based transcriptome analysis of Zygaena filipendulae with focus on genes involved in biosynthesis of cyanogenic glucosides, BMC Genomics, 10:574.[Full Text]
Chinery, M. (1991) Collins Guide to the Insects of Britain and Western Europe.
UK Moths – Six-spot Burnet
Wikipedia – Six-spot Burnet