TG1312 : Elephant Hawk moth (Deilephila elpenor) larva

taken 7 years ago, near to Ringland, Norfolk, Great Britain

Elephant Hawk moth (Deilephila elpenor) larva
Elephant Hawk moth (Deilephila elpenor) larva
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The English name of this moth is derived from the caterpillar's fanciful resemblance to an elephant's trunk.* The adults are attractively coloured pink and green affairs, with a streamlined appearance > LinkExternal link. They fly from May to July, visiting flowers such as honeysuckle (Lonicera) for nectar. The larvae feed mainly on rosebay willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium), but also other plants as well, including bedstraw (Galium). LinkExternal link

* Geograph moderator Rob Farrow believes that the reference to the elephant isn't so much the appearance of the entire caterpillar, but its extendable "snout" that comes out of its head. [Many thanks, Rob.]
Elephant Hawk-moth
The Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) has one of the largest caterpillars of any butterfly or moth in Britain, but the imago (adult or flying stage) is considerably smaller than many other Hawk-moths.
The imago has striking markings (see SP9211 : Elephant Hawk Moth - Imago - Top view) which are simultaneously subtle yet vivid. The underside of its body is bright pink which is echoed less vividly as stripes on the otherwise olive-green wings. The upper side of its body and its head are similarly marked to its wings.
The large (long and fat) olive-brown caterpillar (see TG1312 : Elephant Hawk moth (Deilephila elpenor) larva) has an extensible "trunk" to its head which has given the moth its name - or some suggest that the whole caterpillar resembles an elephant's trunk. The caterpillar feeds mostly on the common and widespread plant, rosebay willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium), but also on other plants as well, in particular, bedstraw (Galium spp.)
The adult (imago) feeds on the nectar of various flowering plants such as honeysuckle.
There is a slightly smaller, but very similar moth, unsurprisingly called the "Small Elephant Hawk-moth" (Deilephila porcellus) which has a uniformly pink head rather than pink stripes on green that are evident on its larger cousin - its wingspan is c.40-45mm compared to the 45-60mm of elpenor.
For more information on these species see:
Elephant Hawkmoth (D. elpenor) LinkExternal link
Small Elephant Hawkmoth (D. porcellus) LinkExternal link
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TG1312, 17 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Wednesday, 24 August, 2011   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 24 August, 2011
Geographical Context
Wild Animals, Plants and Mushrooms 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 1329 1247 [10m precision]
WGS84: 52:40.0772N 1:9.1767E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 1329 1247
View Direction
EAST (about 90 degrees)
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