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584 Views 7 Replies Last post: Sep 7, 2013 8:50 AM by Wortmaggot RSS
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Sep 6, 2013 9:45 PM

Never seen anything like this before

Good evening,

 

Please could you help me identify this curious, little creature which I found in my conservatory this evening.  I have never seen anything like it before, it completely amazed me.

 

I am sorry if some of the photos are poor quality.  The creature was approximately two inches long, its skin brown with a distinctive pattern (see photo), and its body was curved upwards, as if sitting up.  It had two eyes on the top of its head and it was looking at me.  There was a tiny white prick at its rear.  It actually looked somewhat like a baby snake.

 

This creature was found in my conservatory, in Buckinghamshire, England, this evening.  I carefully removed him using a dustpan and placed him alive and well at the bottom of the garden.

 

thank you for all your help,

 

kind regards

Aron

 

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Aron's blog about the Wiltshire countryside: http://www.ilovewiltshire.jux.com

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 6, 2013 9:30 PM (in response to ArkAngel)
    Re: Never seen anything like this before

    It is the caterpillar of an elephant hawk moth, Deilephila elpenor

    http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=4183

     

    The adult moth is a wonderful example of Nature's inventiveness with pattern and colour

    http://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/2-5484-5541/450-337/Elephant+Hawk-moth+-+Deilephila+elpenor.jpg

     

    Thanks for showing us your find and for putting it back into the wilds of your garden to continue its life.

     

    Mike

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    Sep 6, 2013 9:31 PM (in response to ArkAngel)
    Re: Never seen anything like this before

    Hi ArkAngel,

     

    This curious creature is a moth, its the caterpillar of the Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor), they are quite large, and are a common garden species.  I'd love to find one!!

    Those are not actually eyes but made to look like eyes and its one of the ways it protects itself from predators, by immitating a snake.  It rears up to increase the believabilty of the act, that is also how it got its name, the Victorians obviously thought it looked like an elephants trunk when this happens.

     

    They typically will stay on a food plant, but at this stage I would say it was looking for a place to pupate, they tend to wander then, this species will pupate just under the soil, over winter there, and emerge in late spring to early summer.  They are stunning moths, maybe you'll get a chance to see one next year, chances are this isn't the only one you have in your garden.

     

    Hope this is helpful

    Crystal

     

    Edit: Crossed paths with Mike again, nice photo of the adult.

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        Sep 6, 2013 9:43 PM (in response to ArkAngel)
        Re: Never seen anything like this before

        Hi Aron,

        They actually don't mind the rain, and if you got brave and reared one you'd need to spray it and the dirt around it every few days through the winter.  A container with about three inches of soil, and it will probably dig in and pupate.

         

        We found a pupa once in a muddy footpath and brought it home to rear for the last leg of its pupation, we kept it in a cold room (they need those cold days to mature properly as well as the water).  In mid April it emerged and was amazing to release.

         

        It is wonderful to have nature all around!

         

        Crystal

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    Sep 7, 2013 8:50 AM (in response to ArkAngel)
    Re: Never seen anything like this before

    Hello ArkAngel, You are so lucky! The moths that ultimately develop are some of the most beautiful to be found in the UK. The foodplants of these caterpillars in the wild include Willowherb, but increasingly they are found in people's gardens on Fuchsia. (I have planted extra Fuchsias in my garden this year in the hope of attracting them.)

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