Cheshire Macro-Moths - Elephant Hawk-moth

The Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) (Photo by:  Steve J. McWilliam) The Elephant Hawk-moth - Deilephila elpenor Linnaeus

Imago / Adult:

The adult moth (imago) varies between 62 and 72 mm wingspan. The ground colour is a bright cerise pink with greenish to khaki markings on the wings and body - (I often feel that this animal represents the archetype for the 'pink elephants' supposedly so often seen by people when drunk!). It is an resident moth which is usually single brooded in Britain but which can in long, warm summers produce a partial second brood. Its main brood flies from mid-May through to the end of July, with any second brood taking the flight period through until the end of August. This moth is widely distributed in Cheshire and is the commonest hawk-moth in the County, although if the records were based purely upon larval sightings it would never have reached such a local status.


The larvae are large, usually 80 to 85 millimetres in length. The ground colouration of the body is usually brown though a green form is also known to occur. Both the green and brown forms have the ground colouration heavily speckled with grey and have distinctive black and pink eye spots on the fourth and fifth body segments. The larval horn is small and black with a white tip.


The larvae usually feed from July through to September on a variety of willowherbs, especially Rosebay Willowherb but can be found less commonly on bedstraws, garden fuschia and bog-bean.


The moth overwinters as a pupa/chrysalis in the ground beneath its foodplant. However, this caterpillar will often wander far from its foodplant to find a suitable pupation site.












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