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Lime Hawk Moth

Mimas tiliae

Lime Hawk Moth

A close up image of a lime hawk moth Mimas tiliae pinning on a white background

Mimas tiliae SLU

by Vítězslav Maňák (SLU). CC BY-SA 3.0

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Mimas tiliae is a beautiful species of Hawk Moth, which naturally occurs in deciduous woodland. Recently it's become more common in urban areas, such as gardens and parks. They're a night-flying moth, but may be attracted to your garden if the porch light is left on one summer evening. They're on the wing from late spring in the UK and Europe. The caterpillars are seen crossing pavements and gardens in mid-summer when they're looking for the perfect spot to pupate- so watch where you tread!
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Traits

Mature moths don't eat, so they're not the best pollinators.
Beautiful moths which are a good resource for bats and birds.

Appearance

Adults: Mature moths are easily recognisable. The bodies are fluffy, buff and khaki green. The wings (max wingspan: 8cm) comprise a variable mixture of greens, browns and pinks! The females typically include more browns, buffs and pinks, whereas males can be much brighter! The wings are also scalloped. There is a main, traverse, dark central bar on the forewings; this is sometimes broken or completely lacking. Caterpillars: The caterpillars can grow up to a length of 6.5cm. They tend to be green with yellow and green diagonal stripes and a curved, blue tail horn. Near the tail horn is raised, yellow spots- these are called tubercles. A rare morph possesses red and yellow spots. They turn a pale purple-grey covered with white speckles when they approach pupation (cocoon stage). Pupae: Deep red-brown and cigar-shaped. Ideally, they pupate near Lime trees, but this is condition dependent. Maybe found beneath soil and leaf litter, or up high in the nooks of deciduous trees. Egg: The eggs are pale mint green and quite small. They're typically laid on the primary food plant, which is lime.

Symptoms

These caterpillars may be a pest on small lime plants. Will strip a few leaves a day.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Sphingidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Southern parts of the UK and Europe

Biological treatment

These insects should be tolerated in gardens wherever possible. If you find there are too many caterpillars for your plant to support, relocate these insects to a nearby park or reserve using a plastic container. These caterpillars are predated by a handful of parasitic insects, serving an important place in the food web. The moths are a key resource for garden birds, bats and mammals.

Attracts

The caterpillars will munch Lime, Birch, Alder and Elm. Will occasionally be found feeding on other deciduous trees.

Lime

Tilia spp.

Birch

Betula spp.

Elm

Ulmus spp.

Alder

Alnus spp.

A green Acer pseudoplatanus plant in a garden

Sycamore

Acer pseudoplatanus

Ash

Fraxinus spp.

Pear

Pyrus spp.

Rowan Tree

Sorbus spp.

Repels

They are predated by wasps, spiders, birds, bats and mammals.
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