The garden tiger moth has a furry body and a wingspan of 60 to 70 millimetres. It has chocolate-brown front wings with cream patterns, and its back wings are orange-red with black spots. The bright colours are a warning to predators of the unpleasant taste of its poisonous body fluids. The caterpillar is around 60 millimetres long. It is brown and black and very hairy and is known as a woolly bear. The hairs are an irritant and protect it from predators such as birds. They are extremely painful to touch.
The garden tiger moth prefers open habitats such as gardens, parks, grasslands, meadows and scrubby areas. It can be found throughout Europe.
The moth is commonly seen in flight between June and August. It spends the winter as a caterpillar. Adults drink nectar from flowers, and caterpillars eat low-growing herbaceous plants.