I was looking through my photos the other night and rediscovered this picture I took three years ago in my garden, around this time of year.
Just look at this beauty! It’s an elephant hawk moth Deilephila elpenor and was approx 45mm or 1 3/4in long. I believe it is a female, because the antenna are smooth and without comb/feather structures.
I was really startled when I saw it on the grass. It’s vivid pink and grassy green looked like some kind of lost child’s toy, and when I realised it was moving, and that is was in fact a moth, I couldn’t believe it.
Such a fantastic find, I think it had only recently pupated as it’s wings seemed small to start with. It did a lot of wing-beating, which was a loud low humming noise. It stayed with me for a good few minutes, enough for me to get the camera and take some good shots of it.
Behind our house is a fallow field with a big colony of rosebay willowherb, which is it’s caterpillar’s food source. I am hoping I bump into another one day.
I love wildlife, and spent many hours as a kid in my garden at home, finding mini-beasts and amphibians. I hope to keep my garden a suitable place for wildlife so that my kids can enjoy the same experience.
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve found an unexpected and incredible creature.
UPDATE: I have since taken photos of the elephant hawk moth caterpillar here which I found in summer 2010
UPDATE: Some of these photos were used, with permission, in the Mongomeryshire Field Society report 2010