Elephant Hawk-moth

Deilephila elpenor

Heath McDonald
Alan Cann
Heath McDonald
Bob Eade

Identification Tip

Elephant Hawk-moths have an olive-green body with bright pink markings on their wings and body, including a pink stripe down their back which separates them from the Small Elephant Hawk-moth.

What do they eat?

Caterpillars munch on:

  • Rosebay Willowherb (favourite)
  • Other Willowherbs
  • Bedstraws (Galium)
  • Fuchsia

Adults take nectar from tubular flowers such as:

  • Honeysuckle
  • Jasmine

Where does it spend the winter?

In September, caterpillars leave the food plant and wander around, looking find a place to pupate. Once they’ve found a suitable spot, they nestle amongst fallen leaves or just below the surface of the soil. They then transform into a chrysalis and stay like that until emerging as adult moths the following May.



Flying Season

May - July

Life Cycle


May, June, July, August




June, July, August, September


January, February, March, April, September, October, November, December

UK Distribution

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • Northern Ireland

Want to learn


There is even more about this species on the main Butterfly Conservation website

Fun Facts
about the Elephant Hawk-moth

The large, brown caterpillars of the Elephant Hawk-moth are said to resemble an elephants trunk and have conspicuous eye-spots on their back. When threatened by a predator, these caterpillars tuck their head back towards their body and puff themselves up, giving the impression of a wide-eyed snake.