Spotting Hawk-moth caterpillars

Impressive caterpillars of Hawk-moths may be closer than you think. If you have a garden and the right plants, you may even have some of them in your backyard.

Early summer is hatching time of the large moths that have spent winter hibernating as chrysalis. This is a good time to take a walk and keep your eyes open. With a little luck you can spot a Hawk-moth hanging on a branch, a house wall or any place they climb up for drying their wings before taking off for the first flight. A couple weeks later, the time is right for searching their caterpillars, the hornworms.

Hawk-moths are great for kids, too due to their size. They’re also quite robust to handle. It’s a great activity to go out and search for these creatures. Here’s our best findings from last summer. Some spotted on the way to the supermarket, others on a walk with the determination to finding caterpillars for raising them. Elephant Hawk-moths (Deilephila elpenor), Bedstraw Hawk-moths (Hyles gallii) and Poplar Hawk-moths (Laothoe populi) are among the most common species in Finland. Finding the caterpillar of the Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila porcellus) was a nice surprise, as these are harder to find.

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