An Elephant In The Garden?


That would be of the hawk-moth variety, Deilephila elpenor. The elephant in the name is not due to its size, though with a wingspan of one and half to two and half inches (45-60mm) it is quite large, but to the appearance of its caterpillar which has a trunk-like protuberance. The caterpillars like to feed on Rosebay Willowherb and bedstraws found in rough grassland, while the moth prefers to sup on the wing, from dusk till dawn, feeding at tubular flowers such as honeysuckle.

Before this particular Elephant hawk-moth was in the garden, it was in the utility room. We found it on the window blind, but decided it would be better off outside with the honeysuckle. It did not react to being moved or having its photo taken. In fact I think it was asleep. A very striking livery though, as moth colour schemes go.


49 thoughts on “An Elephant In The Garden?

  1. That’s a lovely moth. I also released one (not as pretty, but big) which appeared to be asleep on a wall in the house! I put it outside but it didn’t move for a long time.

  2. Lovely colours for a moth, as you say, Tish.

    The first I ever saw this colour combination was quite young on Princess Margaret. So rare a combination that I have not forgotten it! I actually found the photo online but I am unable to attach it here! Too bad. Anyway, we know she got it from the moth and not the other way around!

    Thanks. Sarah

  3. I found the photo, Tish. It is the 33rd of 75 in an issue of Town and Country of who knows when!

    The magazine refers to her hat as ‘brown’. But I hope you will agree with me that it is as much pink as brown and a quite ravishing colour. A little less pink that the elephant moth but still pink enough for me to have remembered it all these years as pink! The moth’s combination, as you noted is still rare! Quite lovely.

    Interesting to think that none of these colours which you bring to us so often…..none of them are for us! They are for their interacting species. Puts us in our place?!

    I hope this photo brings you a smiling memory! Sarah

    1. Oh, and on the colour combo. I seem to remember there was a toffee bar with similar colours but for the life of me I can’t remember the name. Raspberry ripple or something.

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