The cinnabar moth is a night flier, but can sometimes be seen flying during the day in sunshine, or if disturbed from its grassy resting place. The moth is fairly easy to spot due to bright red spots and stripes on its upper charcoal grey/black forewings, and hind wings,bright red, edged with charcoal. The moth got its name from the bright red mineral cinnabar.
The caterpillars are distinguishable due to their jet black and yellow/orange stripes. They are voracious eaters and can be seen decimating their favourite food plant – ragwort – possibly reducing the plant to mere stems in some cases.