Elephant Hawk-moth

Deilephila elpenor


The Elephant Hawk-moth is a medium-sized hawk-moth, on the wing from May to July and active at dusk. It is commonly found in parks and gardens, as well as woodland edges, rough grassland and sand dunes. The caterpillars are seen from July to September and are very characteristic: greyish-green or brown with two enormous, black eyespots towards the head. When disturbed, they swell up to show these spots and scare-off predators. The caterpillars feed on willowherbs, fuchsia and bedstraw, and the adults feed on nectar. The caterpillars overwinter as chrysalides, hidden amongst low vegetation or in the soil.

How to identify

The striking Elephant Hawk-moth is mainly golden-olive with bright pink bars on the wings and body. The similar Small Elephant Hawk-moth is smaller, more yellow, and less common; it is found in short grassland.

Where to find it



When to find it

  • May
  • June
  • July

How can people help

Moths such as the Elephant Hawk-moth are common in gardens - why not set up a moth trap at night and see who comes to visit? To attract moths and butterflies into your garden, plant nectar-rich borders and shrubs for them to feed on. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Elephant Hawk-moth
Latin name
Deilephila elpenor
Butterflies and moths
Wingspan: 6-7cm
Conservation status