Elephant Hawk Moth

The Elephant hawk moth (Deilephila elpenor) gets its name from the caterpillar’s resemblance to an elephant’s trunk. It is a large, strong-flying moth, attractively colored pink and green. Colors seem to shimmer when the moth is in flight. This species has good night vision, and feeds at night on nectar from flowers such as honeysuckle. It is most active at night.

Elephant hawk moth

While most insects land on flowers when foraging, this hawk moth hovers in front of them extending its long proboscis to retrieve the nectar. It is extremely good at compensating for drift under windy conditions. It has small wings and flies fast with a high wing beat frequency. This flight behavior is very energy consuming. To feed effectively, the hawk moth has well developed superposition eyes that it uses for locating flowers at night.

In the wild elephant hawk moths are common on bedstraw (Galium), rose-bay and willow herbs. They are a minor pest of grapevine, Impatiens and Fuchsia both outdoors and in greenhouses. Larvae can cause considerable defoliation, but are usually present in small numbers.

Elephant hawk moth caterpillar

The caterpillar can be brown or green with a well developed horn.

References: File # 103



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