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Elephant Hawk Moth

Deilephila elpenor

Elephant Hawk Moth, Large Elephant Hawk Moth

by Joel70. All rights reserved

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An Elephant Hawk Moth is a large and recognisable pretty pink insect. Hawk Moths get their names from their ability to feed while flying on the spot. The adult moths are most active at dusk. Sometimes they're seen resting on tree trunks during the day or near garden lights and lamps in the evening. Hawk Moths are nectar feeders, showing a preference for pale-coloured, tubular flowers like Honeysuckle. It's the caterpillars that are seen most by gardeners. Occasionally, they can chew on the leaves of Fuschias, Dahlias and Lavender, but the preferred food plants are Rosebay Willowherb and Bedstraws. Many think the Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar resembles an elephants trunk, which is where this moth gets its common name. The caterpillars are actually in fact snake-mimics, expanding their size and eyespots when threatened.
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A pretty garden pollinator.
They have large appetites.


Adults: Mature moths possess attractive patterns and colours, and for this reason, making them easy to identify. The body is a greenish-brown, with a pink W shape below the head and a pink stripe running down the body. The tip of the tail is pink. The wings are mainly khaki green with pink margins, possessing 3 pink diagonal strips per wing. Larvae: Caterpillars are large and chunky, growing to 7cm! Caterpillars can be green or brown, both colours possessing four large eyespots on the head. Pupae: The cocoons are stout, red-brown and shiny. Pupae are often dug up by gardeners in the autumn. Sometimes they're found beneath leaf litter. Eggs: The eggs are glossy white-green; laid on Rosebay Willowherb, Himalayan balsam and Bedstraw. Tip* The small elephant hawkmoth (Deilephila porcellus) is smaller, brighter pink, and lacks the pink vertical strip down the body, as seen in the Large Elephant Hawkmoth.


Chunky, brown and green caterpillars found near leaf litter or food plant. Irregular holes in leaves. Half-eaten leaves. Damaged leaves and flowers.











Widespread across Europe

Biological treatment

If there are too many are defoliating plants they can be picked off by hand and moved elsewhere.


Some pink Chamaenerion angustifolium flowers on a plant

Rosebay Willowherb

Epilobium angustifolium


Fuchsia spp.

Common Honeysuckle

Lonicera periclymenum


Galium spp.

Some Impatiens glandulifera with pink flowers and green leaves in the wild

Himalayan Balsam

Impatiens glandulifera


Lavandula spp.


Dahlia spp.


Galium spp.

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