This beautiful caterpillar was spotted on the path in the nature area at Lindengate recently, by one of the
participants whilst we walked around the area looking at all the flora and fauna living in this little oasis, totally oblivious of the busy road only a few metres away. It was very lucky that none of us accidentally trod on it, as it was so well camouflaged amongst the grasses along the edge of the path.
The larvae are sometimes found resting on stems in good weather, when they have been searching for somewhere to pupate. They are large, and have noticeable eye markings. They overwinter as pupae in the base of plants, in loose plant debris, or just below ground.
Their foodplants are Rosebay Willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium), other willowherbs, bedstraws (Galium), Enchanter’s Nightshade, fuchsias and Himalayan Balsam.
The adults are nocturnal, fly from dusk during May – July, and come to light, so are often a visitor to moth traps. They rest during the day amongst their foodplants. They feed on honeysuckle (Lonicera) and other tubular flowers whilst on the wing.
They have a wingspan range of 45 – 60mm, are part of the Sphingidae (Hawk-moth family), and can be found in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. (Butterfly Conservation)