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Poplar Hawk Moth

Laothoe populi

Poplar Hawk Moth

A close up image of a grey and brown Poplar Hawk Moth Laothoe populi resting on a green leaf

Pappelschwärmer, Laothoe populi 1

by Böhringer Friedrich. CC BY-SA 2.5

1 of 6
Laothoe populi, is the most common hawk moth in its range. The Poplar Hawk Moth can be found wherever there is Poplar, Willow, Aspen and Salix; being a regular visitor to gardens. The adult moths do not feed, so they can be difficult to spot during the day. However, both males and females are attracted to light, so you may get lucky if the porch light is left on one summers evening! Their favourite habitats include heathland and moorland, fens, woodland, parks and gardens. See them on the wing from June to October!
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A tasty snack for bats and birds.
These caterpillars use Poplar as the primary food.


Adults: Mature moths are unusual to other hawk moths because the behind wings are held more forward, so it's possible to see them poking out beneath the front wings when resting. If disturbed, the moth will flash red-brown (or buff) patches underneath the wings to ward off any potential predators. The bodies are grey-brown, with the tip of the abdomen curving slightly upwards. The scalloped-edged wings are a mixture of brown and grey. Larvae: They are large, chunky caterpillars. They're covered in white speckles and pale yellow diagonal stripes. Two rows of red (or black) spots run down the lateral sides of the body, with a fleshy pale yellow spike at the rear end of the body. Pupae: Cigar-shaped and black-brown, located in the soil. Eggs: Yellow-green, laid singularly on the food plant.











Widespread across Europe

Biological treatment

They won't damage garden plants, so no control is necessary!


Caterpillars use plants in the Populus and Salix genena as the primary food plant.

Poplar Tree

Populus spp.


Populus tremula

White Poplar

Populus alba

A close up of a Populus nigra tree branch

Black Poplar

Populus nigra

Goat Willow

Salix caprea

A group of Acacia mucronata plants with green foliage and yellow flowers

Variable Sallow Wattle

Acacia mucronata


Salix spp.


These moths are predated by bats, birds, amphibians and reptiles.
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