Privet Hawk-moth

Sphinx ligustri


The Privet Hawk-moth is a very large hawk-moth that is on the wing for a short period only, in June and July. It is commonly found in parks and gardens, as well as woodland. The adults are attractive, but it is the large caterpillars that really catch the eye: lime green with a purple blush, purple and white streaks on the side, a pale yellow spot on each segment, and a big, blackish hook at the tail end. The caterpillars feed mainly on Privet, but also on Ash and Lilac leaves. As they mature, they turn pinkish and burrow deep into soil in order to pupate, hatching out the following summer.

How to identify

The hawk-moths are recognisable by their large, torpedo-shaped bodies and long, narrow wings, held back like a jet plane. The Privet Hawk-moth is one of the largest, with dark brown and cream wings, and a pink- and black-banded body.

Where to find it

Widespread, although less common in the north.


When to find it

  • June
  • July

How can people help

Moths such as the Privet 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
Privet Hawk-moth
Latin name
Sphinx ligustri
Butterflies and moths
Wingspan: 9-12cm
Conservation status