At dusk a stormy sky drew me out onto our patio… and there was something hovering. I dashed for my camera and managed to capture two more hawk-moths that I’ve never seen before:
Small Elephant Hawk-moth
The name comes from the caterpillar, which has a “trunk”-like nose… otherwise no resemblance! The German name is “Kleiner Weinschwärmer”, small vine moth, although there seems to be no connection to vines. It is only about 4cm long.
The golden-olive colours on the upper body and wings and the pink belly shimmer and glow in the evening light – it feeds on nectar-rich plants from dusk onwards.
The small elephant hawk-moth likes a chalky and dry habitat – which describes our locality very well. As is the case with many butterflies and moths, the larvae feed on Galium (bedstraw) – Labkräuter in German – which is a huge group of grass-like flowering plants. One of these is the sticky leafed plant that we used to call goose-grass. I am beginning to realise that the weeds in parts of my garden are an invaluable food source!
This hawk-moth is the largest I’ve seen so far – about 6cm long, with a wingspan of about 8cm. It has beautiful markings on its almost transparent wings.
Unlike the Hummingbird Hawk-moth, which I see during the daytime quite frequently, this one only turns up to feed in the evenings. It loves the Red Valerian – I am so glad this plant has spread itself around my garden!
It is not common to see them in the south of Germany, or anywhere in Europe actually – they are widespread, but few and far between.
Aren’t they fascinating creatures!