I hope you can help me. I live in Southern Spain and we are fortunate enough to have about 5 Deathshead Hawk Moth Caterpillars munching their way through my Jasmine. My husband, children and I are keen to follow them through their full cycle and were wondering if you could offer any advice on how to best to look after them. I have attached some pictures, one of them is particularly interesting because it's brown which I understand is a rare mutation. I look forward to your reply
Kind Regards. Becky Kitchen, Los Alpujarras, Spain
My Reply. -
Hi Rebecca - You are lucky they are only visitors in our country, I will show you email and pictures on my website if that is ok, not for sale. I have never seen a brown caterpillar before. I know it might not be possible but the caterpillars should be protected with a sleeve of black netting or even white curtain or parasitic wasps will find them. When fully grown they will change to a darker colour before looking for earth to pupate into. This is the stage they wander about and when they get picked up by birds, etc. You will need a strong box with earth or peat without fertilizer for them to burrow into. When they first change to pupae they are very soft and fragile and should not be moved, I leave my hawk moths for a few weeks but I do remember my Deaths Head metamorphosis to be quicker than I expected. I carefully remove the pupae to a netted cage can be bought from eBay or made easily. Lightly spray around the pupae regularly with water, they will be a large pupae and will turn soft before hatching and you might be able to see the shape of wings inside developing. Don't forget to have sticks or netting for the freshly emerged moth to climb and expand their wings. I have reared not bred this species before so I am sending you an interesting link from LBA.
This is a very large and beautiful moth and well worth the trouble. Hope this is of some help to you and good luck.