Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Elephant Hawk-Moth larva

The Elephant Hawk-Moth actually gets the name from the appearance of the larva. The anterior of the caterpillar looks like a trunk, but when it senses danger it can withdraw this "trunk" creating a bulbous head which then resembles a snake with the large eye like markings. This specimen was found by my son outside the rear door this afternoon.

      An absolutely stunning looking creature which was approx. 75 m.m. long when outstretched.

      These caterpillars however are the larva of the Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, and in the early stage, as they emerge from their eggs they build a communal web which they emerge from to bask and feed. These larvae have a couple of ways to avoid predation. When disturbed the group will jerk their bodies in unison and can regurgitate a green fluid. These specimens were spotted by John (Howdon Blogger) in nettles at Cowpen Bewley.


  1. John,

    Great shots of the Hawk-Moth Larva and fascinating information. You told me that your son dosent have much interest in nature but its normally those that come up with the great spots. Bet your glad you had that Howdon Blogger laddie with you at Cowpen Bewley to spot and extract from his wealth of knowledge, acquired through years of nature watching information you could only dream of knowing.

    ps - it is years, well he is into his 2nd year so that is plural (of sorts)

  2. Great post John. The Elephant Hawk-moth larva is fascinating. I can imagine how intimidating it would seem to other creatures when putting on its snake-like pose. I like the photo of the small tortoiseshell caterpillars having a group hug. :)

    Lol at Codders, the cheeky so-and-so. :O)

  3. John,
    Malcolm, my son, was just going out the back for a fag. He was interested after he spotted it and did some research on the larva.
    Yes, the Blogger from Howdon is handy to have with you when out for most things. Hasn't a clue about birds mind!
    Hi Lesley,
    I enjoy reading up on new species, it's not just for the blog, if i see something new i want some info. on it. It struck the "snake" pose a couple of times and i can imagine it would deter lots of birds. That Codders IS a cheekie chappie isn't he? I usually just ignore him!!!!