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moth Elephant Hawk-moths

Identify It >   Moth Section >   Elephant Hawk-moths >


Scientific name:  Deilephila elpenor

Size:  Wingspan approximately 70mm

Distribution:  Found throughout most of England, Wales and Ireland. In Scotland they are mainly found in the south and west

Months seen:  May to July.  The large caterpillars are seen from July to September

Life span:  Adult moths live for up to 5 weeks

Habitat:  Gardens, waste ground and woodland clearings

Food:  Nectar. The caterpillars feed on bedstraws, willowherbs and in gardens they feed on fuchsias, and gooseberry

Special features:  Large Elephant hawk-moths are one of the most brightly coloured moths found in the UK.  Here at UK Safari we often receive email messages from people saying they've seen a "pink butterfly" which usually turns out to be an Elephant Hawkmoth.

The "Elephant" part of the name comes from the caterpillars which have a trunk-like section just behind the head.  It can be extended or retracted as a defensive tactic (see photos above).  When it feels threatened it draws this trunk in towards its body.  This shields the head from danger and has the added advantage of inflating its body, making the four eye markings look much larger.

The caterpillars can be green but are more frequently brown with a net like pattern along the body, as well as the four large 'eye' markings at the head end.  The two colour forms may be a defence tactic.  If a predator is looking for green caterpillars it may not see the brown ones and vice-versa.

When fully grown the caterpillar moves down to the ground to pupate.  It remains in this state until the following spring (around May) when it emerges as an adult moth.

Sightings

2013 - Sherborne, Gloucestershire - G. Bradley (photo)

2014 - Gower, S. Wales - Charles Pearce (photo)
2014 - Ruthin, N. Wales - Martin Dyer (photo)
2014 - Chipstead, Surrey - John Butler (photo)
2014 - Northowram, Halifax, West Yorkshire - Lois Jordan (photo)
2014 - Water treatment works at Worsethorne, Burnley - Dom Metcalfe (photo)
2014 - Ilford, Essex - Faraz Mirza (photo)
2014 - Gosport, Hampshire - Jason Gines (photo)
2014 - Thirsk, North Yorkshire - Derek Adamson (photo)
2014 - Prudhoe, Northumberland - Kathleen Sullivan (photo)
2014 - Lakenheath, Suffolk - Justin Brooks (photo)
2014 - Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland - Keith Donnelly (photo)
2014 - Llanidloes, Powys, Mid Wales - Erik Watson (photo)
2014 - Keynsham, Somerset - Sara Burchill (photo)
2014 - Higher Walton, Lancashire - Jacob, Mum + Libby Nelmes (photo)
2014 - Tamworth, Staffordshire - Sarah Parsons (photo)
2014 - Lea Valley Country Park, Hertfordshire - Jane Pierce (photo)
2014 - Coventry, West Midlands - Paul Day (photo)
2014 - East Harling, Norfolk - Jenny Davies
2014 - St Davids, Pembrokeshire - Zoe Nosworthy (photo)
2014 - Portknockie, Moray - Catherine MacLeod (photo)
2014 - West Sussex - Diana Spadaccini (photo)
2014 - Airdrie - Moe Coyle (photo)
2014 - Heywood, Lancashire - Lee Mitchell (photo)
2014 - Biringham - Heather Ratcliff (photo)
2014 - Orpington, Kent - John Moorcroft (photo)
2014 - Rochester, Kent - Stuart Dray (photo)
2014 - Heath and Reach, Beds - Verna Farmer (photo)
2014 - Elgin, Morayshire - Nicola Gibson (photo)
2014 - Ponteland, Tyne and Wear - Beth Wolland (photo)
2014 - Sheffield - Kellan Godley (photo)
2014 - Rotherham, South Yorkshire - Alison Pickersgill (photo)
2014 - Ashton under Lyne, Greater Manchester - Louie and Corey Sowler (photo)
2014 - Tonbridge, Kent - Anita Hall (photo)
2014 - Basingstoke Hampshire - Samuel Livesey (photo)
2014 - Tehidy Woods, Cornwall - Toby Stacey (photo)
2014 - Darvel, Ayrshire - Gordon Fleming (photo)
2014 - Maybole, South Ayrshire - John Steven (photo)
2014 - Newport, South Wales - Rob Jones (photo)
2014 - Bridgend, South Wales - Alan Bateman (photo)
2014 - Rugby, Warwickshire - Callum Goodall (photo)
2014 - Ardrossan, North Ayrshire - Bill Scott (photo)
2014 - Halifax, West Yorkshire - Dusty Sandals (photo)
2014 - Birkenhead, Cheshire - Jack Lester (photo)
2014 - West End, Southampton - Steve Payne (photo)
2014 - Gloucester, Sam Jebb (photo)
2014 - Bingham, Nottinghamshire - Jeff Lukomiak (photo)
2014 - Reading, Berkshire - Katie Noble (photo)
2014 - Glan Conwy, Denbighshire - John Mooney
2014 - Alfreton, Derbyshire - Samantha Davies (photo)
2014 - Poole, Dorset - Sue Cox (photo)
2014 - Thurmaston, Leicester - Mo Cunninghame-Smith and Roger Cross (photo)
2014 - Highbridge, Somerset - Tim Webb (photo)
2014 - Wigan, Lancashire - Jenna Tilley (photo)
2014 - Bo'ness, West Lothian - Ross Marshall (photo)
2014 - Burntwood, Staffordshire - Geoff Fessey (photo)
2014 - Forfar, Angus - Mary Daun
2014 - Telford, Shropshire - Sarah Evans (photo)
2014 - Downend, Bristol - Pat Dando (photo)
2014 - Chulmleigh, Devon - Diana Farrow (photo)
2014 - Oswestry, Shropshire - A.J. Betts (photo)
2014 - Hockworthy, Devon - Louise Webber (photo)
2014 - Chichester, West Sussex - Harry Benham (photo)
2014 - Sleights, North Yorkshire - Jodie Hopkinson (photo)
2014 - Eaton Bishop, Herefordshire - Les Crosthwaite (photo)
2014 - St. Budeaux, Plymouth - Anita Kemp (photo)
2014 - Torbay, Devon - John Puddephatt (photo)
2014 - Launceston, Cornwall - Keira Moore (photo)
2014 - Coity, Bridgend - Emma Jayne Arnold (photo)
2014 - Hull, Yorkshire - Carla Gill (photo)
2014 - Talybont-on-Usk, Powys - Jack Edwards (photo)
2014 - Swindon, Wiltshire - Brian Murdoch (photo)
2014 - Falmouth, Cornwall - Bet Osborne (photo)
2014 - Sapcote, Leicestershire - Cheryl Teal (photo)
2014 - Mickleover, Derby - Sandra Barrett (photo)
2014 - Bolton, Lancashire - Colin Buckle (photo)
2014 - Farnham, Surrey - Trevor Ball (photo)
2014 - Much Wenlock, Shropshire - Rob & Jules (photo)
2014 - Halesowen, West Midlands - Sue Lavill (photo)
2014 - Whitby, North Yorkshire - Donna Hopkinson (photo)
2014 - Barnstaple, Devon - Sally Wheldon (photo)
2014 - Walderslade Kent - Steve Marshall (photo)
2014 - Wimborne, Dorset - Oscar Davis (photo)
2014 - Romsey, Hampshire - David Scanlan (photo)
2014 - Canterbury, Kent - Mel Allen (photo)
2014 - Harbourne, Birmingham, West Midlands - Paul Haponik (photo)

2015 - Birch Vale, High Peak, Derbyshire - James Patterson (photo)
2015 - Sidcup, Kent (hand reared from larvae) - Chris Littlejohns (photo)
2015 - Launceston, Cornwall (hand reared from larvae) - Keira Moore (photo)
2015 - Hereford, Hertfordshire - Peter Godfrey (photo)
2015 - Sudbury, Suffolk - Laul Doggett (photo)
2015 - Halstead, Essex - Michael J Pannell (photo)
2015 - Norwich, Norfolk - Sue Flaxman (photo)
2015 - Millbrook, Southampton - Archie and Freya Thomson (photo)
2015 - Appledore, Ashford (hand reared) - Paul Cane (photo)
2015 - Newport, South Wales - Richard Exworthy (photo)
2015 - Inverness, Highlands of Scotland - Gerry Moonan (photo)
2015 - Bagshot, Surrey - Peter Sadlowski (photo)
2015 - Heysham Barrows, Lancashire - Dr. Paul Taylor (photo)
2015 - Kennington, Ashford, Kent - Lee Clark (photo)
2015 - Ayrshire, Scotland - David Jamieson
2015 - Corby, Northamptonshire - Joanne Sharman
2015 - Coventry, Birmingham - Paul Jenkins (photo)
2015 - Chiswick, London W4 - Lilou and Katja Schneekloth-Goldberg (photo)
2015 - South Cave, East Yorkshire - John Richardson (photo)
2015 - Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire - Judy Fairbanks (photo)
2015 - Newmilns, East Ayrshire - David Mclean (photo)
2015 - Yelverton, Norfolk - Mike & Carol Wooldridge (photo)
2015 - Belfast, N. Ireland - Beverley Stafford (photo)
2015 - Stevenage, Hertfordshire - Emma Bull (photo)
2015 - Coalville, Leicestershire - Jacquie Watson (photo)
2015 - Gillingham, Kent - Dave Collins (photo)
2015 - Loughton, Essex - Jodie Erics (photo)
2015 - Huntley, Gloucestershire - Julie Watkinson (photo)
2015 - Walsall, West Midlands - Natalie Homer (photo)
2015 - Felsted, Essex - Kathy Andrews (photo)
2015 - Bangor, Gwynedd - Jan Oney (photo)
2015 - York - Lizzy & Isabella Kirk (photo)
2015 - Netherton, Merseyside - Sandra Conlan (photo)
2015 - Southampton - Robin Bartholomew (photo)
2015 - Turriff, Aberdeenshire - Malcolm Evans
2015 - Nottingham - Ray Bilbie (photo)
2015 - Chesterfield, Derbyshire - K. Millward (photo)
2015 - Hounslow, Middlesex - Maureen Keen (photo)
2015 - near Forgandenny, Perthshire - Clare McQueen
2015 - Kettering, Northamptonshire - Michael York (photo)
2015 - Tiverton, Devon - Michele James (photo)
2015 - Port Seton, East Lothian - Victoria McGhie (photo)
2015 - Haywards Heath, West Sussex - John Mears (photo)
2015 - Willenhall, West Midlands - Helen Hickman (photo)
2015 - Dover, Kent - Karol Steele (photo)
2015 - Winterbourne, South Gloucestershire - Clare Hopkins (photo)
2015 - Caversham, Berkshire - Ms. Laurence Teulade (photo)
2015 - Yatton, Somerset - Litza Balaskas
2015 - Herne Bay, Kent - Mel Dumphreys (photo)
2015 - Amersham, Buckinghamshire - Jim Ryder (photo)
2015 - Stourport on Severn, Worcestershire - Gill Elliott (photo)
2015 - Felixstowe, Suffolk - Peter Burt (photo)
2015 - Farnborough, Hampshire - Steve & Janet Gravestock (photo)
2015 - Chorley, Lancashire - Jack McGhee (photo)
2015 - Sydenham, London - Gill Bird (photo)
2015 - Hucknall, Nottingham - Louise Benski (photo)
2015 - Bath, Somerset - Taelor Jack Newport (photo)
2015 - Launceston, Cornwall - Keira Moore (photo)
2015 - Carnwath, South Lanarkshire - Nigel Johnson (photo)
2015 - Stockport, Cheshire - Denise Leese (photo)
2015 - Newmachar, Aberdeenshire - Nicola Price (photo)
2015 - Yeadon, Leeds - Marcus Cameron (photo)
2015 - Launceston Cornwall - George J Baxter (photo)
2015 - Cannington, Somerset - Paul Sinclair (photo)
2015 - Wakefield, West Yorkshire - Kate Allen (photo)
2015 - Salway Ash, Dorset - Carl Smith
2015 - near Tain, Ross-shire - Claire Armstrong (photo)

2016 - Llanarth, Ceredigion - Michael Evans (photo)
2016 - Cropredy, Oxfordshire - Pip Dealtry (photo)
2016 - Wythall, near Birmingham - Lauren Shenoi (photo)
2016 - Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire - Jane Egerton (photo)
2016 - Lancing, West Sussex - Samuel Barnes (photo)
2016 - Newtown, Powys - Sam Trigg (photo)
2016 - Worcester - Madeleine Burton (photo)
2016 - Southwick, West Sussex - Victoria Reeve (photo)
2016 - New Bilton, Rugby, Warwickshire - Stuart Nancollis and Emily Dixon (photo)
2016 - Coleford, Gloucestershire - Alexander Anderson (photo)
2016 - Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire - Nigel Faiers (photo)
2016 - Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire - Barbara Smith (photo)
2016 - Cwm cou, nr Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion - Bernard Bladen (photo)
2016 - Hednesford Park, Staffordshire - Kellie Martin (photo)
2016 - Draycott, Derby - Alun Price (photo)
2016 - Selkirk,Scotland - Donald Ballantyne (photo)
2016 - Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear - Gosia Ruiz (photo)
2016 - Brighton, East Sussex - Deborah Totney (photo)
2016 - Ipswich, Suffolk - Elizabeth Fox (photo)
2016 - Tweedbank, Scottish Borders - Craig Paterson (photo)
2016 - Haconby, Lincolnshire - Jen Bentley (photo)
2016 - Looe, Cornwall - Kathy Iles (photo)
2016 - North Cornelly, Mid Glamorgan - Albert Schoproni (photo)
2016 - Langley Park, Durham - Simon Ward (photo)
2016 - Crackington Haven, Cornwall - Chris Morgan (photo)
2016 - Dinton Pastures, Berkshire - John Gresty (photo)
2016 - Burgess Hill, West Sussex - Kate Wilkins (photo)
2016 - Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire - Robin McConnell (photo)
2016 - Rushall, near Pewsey, Wiltshire - Dawn Harrison (photo)
2016 - Outwood, West Yorkshire - Melvyn & Paula Brickwood (photo)
2016 - Rainham, Essex - Albert Williams (photo)
2016 - West Wood, Nr Lyminge, Kent - Bob Dixon (photo)
2016 - Norwich, Norfolk - Sarah Taylor (photo)
2016 - Newquay, Cornwall - Pauline Wolfarth (photo)
2016 - Sheppey, Kent - Sharon Rochester (photo)
2016 - Bradwell, Derbyshire - Mathew Bailey (photo)
2016 - Llangefni, Anglesey - Katrina Roberts (photo)
2016 - Cyncoed, Cardiff - Alexander Wilson (photo)
2016 - Willoughby, Leicestershire - William Griffin (photo)
2016 - Maidstone, Kent - Anita Heagren (photo)
2016 - Lake District - Nicola Haworth (photo)

2017 - Wrexham - Steve Collings (photo)
2017 - Deaf Hill, County Durham - Brian Smyth (photo)
2017 - Salisbury, Wiltshire - J. Goulden (photo)
2017 - Lancing, West Sussex - David Batchelor (photo)
2017 - Portchester, Hampshire - Mark McElroy (photo)
2017 - Highbridge, Somerset - Laura E Dawson (photo)
2017 - Westbury on Severn, Gloucestershire - Pleasance Gardner (photo)
2017 - Llangennech nr Llanelli Carmarthenshire - Georgina Cotterell
2017 - East Harling, Norfolk - Margaret Birch (photo)
2017 - Braintree, Essex - Peter Metson Halsey (photo)
2017 - Thelwall, Cheshire - Stewart Walsh (photo)
2017 - Swansea - Vince Hide (photo)
2017 - Port Talbot - Sian Clement (photo)
2017 - Alvaston Derby - Ian Webb (photo)
2017 - New York, Lincolnshire - Christine Coward (photo)
2017 - Hinckley, Leicestershire - Ellie Gloster (photo)
2017 - Coventry - Julie Redmond (photo)
2017 - Potton, Bedfordshire - Matt McGinty (photo)
2017 - Bloxwich, West Midlands - Ian Bracey (photo)
2017 - Silverdale, Newcastle, Staffordshire - Anita Simons (photo)
2017 - Brecon, Powys - The Roberts Family (photo)
2017 - Mauchline, Ayrshire - Jim Holland (photo)
2017 - Coggeshall, Essex - Ray Nicholls (photo)
2017 - Weybridge, Surrey - Sharon M Smith (photo)
2017 - Inskip, Lancashire - Claire West (photo)
2017 - Nailsea, Somerset - Rich West (photo)
2017 - Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire - Tricia Bliss (photo)
2017 - North Kessock, Black Isle just north of Inverness - Roma McIntosh (photo)
2017 - Ipswich, Suffolk - John Rhind (photo)
2017 - Wakefield, West Yorkshire - Barbara Auty (photo)
2017 - St. Annes on Sea, Lancashire - Billy Watts (photo)
2017 - Fforestfach, Swansea - Eve Sherratt (photo)
2017 - Stretton, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire - Michelle Mosedale (photo)
2017 - Cardiff - Colette Williams (photo)
2017 - Bath, Somerset - Mo Williams (photo)
2017 - Portsmouth, Hampshire - Gail Broomfield (photo)
2017 - Hythe, Hampshire - Katrina Spridgeon (photo)
2017 - Hullbridge, Essex - Diane Hills (photo)
2017 - Leeds, West Yorkshire - Teresa Camidge (photo)
2017 - Preston, Lancashire - Alan Parkinson (photo)
2017 - Tutshill, Gloucestershire - David Huish (photo)
2017 - Clitheroe, Lancashire - Sarah Jane Yates (photo)
2017 - Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire - Barbara Dykins (photo)
2017 - Horringer, Suffolk - Nicola Hubbard (photo)
2017 - near Lichfield, Staffordshire - Richard Edwards (photo)
2017 - North Manchester - Ian Beswick (photo)
2017 - Monmouth, Monmouthshire - Philip Price (photo)
2017 - near Deal, Kent - Sharon Delaney (photo)

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