Elephant Hawkmoth

Deilephila elpenor

Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor)

This is one of our most beautiful moths with large pink and olive-green streamlined wings.  The name comes from the caterpillar which looks like an elephant’s trunk when it extends itself. Similar to Small Elephant Hawkmoth, which is a lot smaller and has different markings. Wingspan 45 to 60mm.

Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor)

The caterpillar feeds on Fuschia and Bedstraws, but most frequently on Rosebay Willowherb (Chamaenerion angustifolium), and other Willowherbs. This is one of the few caterpillars that can actually swim, which it may resemble a small grass snake.

Flies May to August usually in one generation, but fresh adults maybe seen in the late summer. Flies from dusk feeding on nectar-rich flowers, and is attracted to light, sometimes in large numbers. Found in wide ranging habitats, from parks and gardens, hedgerows, heathland, sandunes, and woodland clearings. Common and widespread throughout England and Wales, but more thinly in Scotland.


Photographs taken June 2011, rear garden, Staffordshire. Camera Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38. © Pete Hillman 2011.

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