Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar on the trail

Elephant Hawk-moth Caterpillar
Elephant Hawk-moth Caterpillar

This wonderful caterpillar, measuring about 7 – 8 cm in length was spotted by Adam on our ‘White Peak Dales and Trails’ walk yesterday.  It was on the Tissington Trail and had probably been gorging on the Rosebay Willow-herb along the side of the trail before venturing out onto the path.

It is an Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar.  Notice the ‘eye’ spots towards its front end.  When these caterpillars feel threatened, they rear up at the front and due to the ‘eyes’ are sometimes mistaken for small snakes.  It is believed that birds that feed on caterpillars are wary of them when they rear up, and tend to leave them alone.

The caterpillar will hibernate through the winter as a crysalis, and the moth that eventually emerges will have a wing span of 6 – 7 cm and will be pink and olive green in colour.

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