The Nire Valley Walking Festival based in the heart of the Comeragh Mountains, Waterford, Ireland.

The Out-law plant.

337px-Britishentomologyvolume5Plate499What is the most hated plant in Ireland? You might think of nettles and even some might volunteer broccoli, but technically, at least, you would be wrong. The title of most hated plant must go to Senecio Jacobea or Ragwort ( Buachalán). What are my bases for this claim, well there is a law banning ragwort. Ask a horse owner about ragwort and be prepared for the "rant" that will follow.

Ragwort is highly poisonous especially to cattle, goats, horses and deer. Sheep seem to have some resistance to the weed but it retards there ability to thrive. To make matters worse it is at its deadliest when it gets in among hay or silage. Normally animals will not eat ragwort as it is bitter and unpalatable, they will only eat it in areas where the land is overgrazed and the cattle are hungry. However when ragwort gets into hay, the drying process removes the bitterness but the plant looses none of its toxins, thus making it more palatable and just as deadly.

So are there any saving graces to this plant. Well I might volunteer one, provided I am out of ear-shot of any horse owners. Ragwort is the host plant to a colourful moth and its larvae (caterpillar) the Cinnabar Moth. Unlike many other species of moth the Cinnabar moth and its larva are colourful. The larva is stripped yellow and black, it lives of the leaves of the ragwort and absorbs the toxins of the plant in such away as to make it distasteful to birds that might otherwise eat it. The moth is has beautiful black and red colour combinations. The moth has proven to be particularly successful as a bio-control agent for ragwort when used in conjunction with the ragwort flea beetle in the western United States.

 cinnabar moth moth cinnabar Moth 1 


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Superb Walking, Great Talking & Traditional Nire Valley Hospitality     Website by: Déise Design
Nire Valley Walking Festival
Superb Walking, Great Talking & Traditional Nire Valley Hospitality

Michael Wall 086 7702544 | Mary Wall 052 6136134 | Ann Kelly 052 6136939