Bright Moth


I thought my photo of an Elephant hawk-moth, Deilephila elpenor, deserved another viewing, being both unusually pink (as for Jude’s Life in Colour this week) and bright lipstick pink and so good for a Becky-bright-square. The moth itself  was a surprise arrival on the garden wall a couple of summers ago. In fact I think it was asleep when I found it. In real life it was about 6 centimetres across (2 and a half inches); a big moth, in other words. And in its caterpillar form it is even bigger, though at that stage it is mostly a dull sludgy colour with pink eye spots and a strange little horn on its tail end.

Hawk moths are nectar feeders and come equipped with especially long tongues to probe their favourite flowers. They are also speedy, precision fliers, so the colour scheme, gaudy when stationary,  blends well among drifts of rose-pink rosebay willow herb where, in high summer, they best like to feed. The caterpillar, on the other hand, has very different eating habits. If they find themselves in a domestic garden they will eat fuchsias. The best response is to pop them in a container and find them a wild patch of rosebay willow herb, Himalayan balsam or bedstraw.

Bright Square #19

Life in Colour: pink

31 thoughts on “Bright Moth

  1. a buxom beauty and what a safari! the ‘cats’ can eat all the Himalayan balsam they want as its one of those invasives we are asked to get rid of – bees love the flowers however so these might be the better answer. More elephants please!
    p.s. My new garden is rather overgrown with Himalayan Balsam in summer so you know what to do if you find any on your fuchsias

    1. Thank you, Dries. I for one had never encountered a moth like it, though as a child I had been very excited to see an Elephant hawk-moth caterpillar, and so wondered all those years ago what it might become. The moth was the most obliging subject so I had plenty of time to take its portrait.

  2. Beautiful image, Tish
    I don’t have a photo of this moth. Maybe one day one will turn up at our spot and I’ll be lurking with my camera! 🙂

    1. Yes, absolutely a native, with a wide distribution up to Scotland. I’d never seen one before. I guess they tend to be out at the end of the day. Also if they flit fast in the rosebay willow herb one simply does not spot them.

      1. Oh now that bodes fair prospects on the moth front. The caterpillars are mostly grey brown and about 8 cms long – with big ‘eye’ markings. Keep a look out, that’s if summer if ever comes.

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