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Elephant Hawk by Andy
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Elephant Hawk Moth larvae on a Fuchsia flower.

Large Elephant Hawk Moth (Deilephila Elpenor)

Elephant Hawk Moth  larvae feeding on a Willowherb flower.

I frequently find this pretty moth inside my mercury moth trap, the adult moth is marked with shades of pink and light brown with white legs. For photography I always photograph a freshly emerged specimen taken before its first flight than a moth caught from the wild as the moths wings lose their gloss finish and edges of wings are often damaged. Moths are on the wing from May often visiting gardens to feed on flowers such as Buddleia, honeysuckle for nectar. This moth is easy to obtain in the wild or bought cheaply from stockists but does require a larger cage with flowers for successful breeding, but is well worth the trouble.

In the wild I often see the large caterpillars feeding on willowherb and even sat on top of a bramble bush sunbathing. The full-grown caterpillar is very large for the size of the moth, sometimes green caterpillar can be found as full-grown larvae but usually, they soon change to brown/ black. It gets its name from a narrow trunk like front segment when alarmed it retracts its head which enlarges four-eyed spots to help deter predators.
In the wild the larvae can be found feeding on willowherb or bedstraw, if you open up a clump of willowherb sometimes you find many Elephant Hawk larvae feeding, probably from different moths. Larvae feeding high up on the plants have often been attacked by parasitic wasps. In urban areas they feed well on fuchsias which many people use in their gardens I once found full-grown larvae on my patio at midnight I realized it had fallen from my wife's hanging basket, and when I investigated I soon found others greedily feeding on the leaves and flowers.

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Large Elephant Hawk Moth  Pupae.