Poplar Hawkmoth Laothoe populi

Sphingidae » Smerinthinae

Poplar Hawkmoth Laothoe populi

With a wingspan of 65 to 90mm  (almost 4 inches) this is one big moth. It has quite an odd way of positioning its wings and curving its abdomen when at rest, probably to camouflage itself amongst trees or shrubs during the day. It will flash its rufous hindwing spots if it feels threatened to ward off predators as can be seen in the image below.

Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi

The adult flies May to July, and is very much attracted to light. They can be seen in various habitats, including woodland, parks and gardens. One of Britain’s commonest hawkmoths and widespread. The larva feeds on poplar, aspen and sallow.

Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi

Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi

Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi

© Pete Hillman July 2017.

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Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum

Sphingidae » Macroglossinae

Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum

I feel quite privileged to have been able to take these photographs of this splendid hawkmoth. I took them quite a few years ago with my first digital camera purchase, and haven’t been able to capture one in flight and feeding since back then.

A spectacular brightly coloured diurnal moth which can be seen sipping nectar in full sunlight with its extraordinary long proboscis. It looks and sounds like a hummingbird as it feeds from tubular flowers such as Red Valerian, Buddleia, Lilac, and the like. It has a bright orange flashy underwing, and distinct chequer-like markings on the rear of its squat abdomen. Wingspan 40 to 50mm.

The adult flies April to December. Most immigrants arrive in August and September. Occurs anywhere, from coastal regions, woodland rides, parks and gardens. This is a regular migrant to Britain from southern Europe and north Africa which can breed here in hot summers in the south of England. The larva feeds on on Lady’s and Hedge Bedstraw, and Wild Madder.

© Pete Hillman August 2005.

Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor

Sphingidae » Macroglossinae

Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor

This hawkmoth always reminds me of a fond time during my boyhood when my brother and I discovered the caterpillar for this moth, and subsequently watched it pupate and turn into this magnificent adult. Hawkmoths can be quite docile creatures in the daytime, and they will let you handle them readily, and tend to be very cooperative and accommodating on a photo shoot.

Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor

This is one of our most beautiful moths with large pink and olive-green streamlined wings. The name comes from the caterpillar which looks like an elephant’s trunk when it extends itself. Similar to the Small Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila porcellus), which is a lot smaller and has different markings. Wingspan 45 to 60mm.

Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor

The adults fly May to August usually in one generation, but fresh adults may be seen in the late summer. Flies from dusk feeding on nectar-rich flowers, and is attracted to light, sometimes in large numbers. Found in wide-ranging habitats, from parks and gardens, hedgerows, heathland, sand dunes, and woodland clearings. Common and widespread throughout England and Wales, but more thinly in Scotland.

Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor

The larvae feed on Fuschia and Bedstraws, but most frequently on Rosebay Willowherb (Chamaenerion angustifolium), and other Willowherbs. This is one of the few caterpillars that can actually swim, which it may resemble a small grass snake.

© Pete Hillman June 2017.

Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae

Sphingidae » Smerinthinae

Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae

This is a large and impressive hawkmoth with its scalloped-edged forewings and olive-green and pinkish markings. The central dark forewing markings may be variable, and in some individuals may be joined to form a cross-band. Wingspan 55 to 70mm.

Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae

The adult flies May to early July, and is attracted to light. It may be found resting on tree trunks or walls during the day. Found in various habitats where the larval foodplant grows, including broadleaved woodland, parks and gardens. A resident species, common and widespread in the southern half of England up to Yorkshire. The larva feeds on lime, elm and other deciduous trees. It overwinters as a pupa.

Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae

Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae

© Pete Hillman June 2013.