Elephant Hawk Moth

The Elephant Hawk Moth is amongst the easily identifiable and colourful moths in Britain.  It is a common moth which is a frequent visitor to my Leicestershire garden, but as it only flies from dusk and during the hours of darkness.  Despite its lovely pink and lime colours it is remarkably hard to find and spends many hours deep in bushes and undergrowth where it sits motionless for long periods of time to avoid predators.  They are a common moth throughout England and Wales where there is a good even distribution in most counties.   One of the easiest ways of seeing them is after dusk by using a torch or other strong light source where they can be seen flying around the garden, they appear quite large with a wingspan of up to 70 mm.

Elephant Hawk Moths are between 25 and 35 mm in length when fully grown, and are often found within flying distance of their food plant which is Rosebay Willow herb, but they can also be found on other Willow herb species and Bedstraws.  They have a flight season from May through to August.  They are commonly found in gardens where they regularly eat fuchsias, but I guess that this is often at night when gardeners don't see them!!  They also lay their eggs on fuscias plants.

The name "elephant hawk moth" comes from the caterpillars which are a mixture of both brown and green and are similar in appearance to an elephants trunk.  The caterpillars feed for a couple of months during the summer until they are fully grown.  They then move down to ground level to pupate and emerge as fully grown moths the following spring.

These images and the moths below were all found in my Leicestershire garden, there is a patch of Rosebay Willow herb in the field only a few metres from the end of the garden and this has clearly helped attract this lovely coloured insects.