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Deilephila elpenor, Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar

©The Creative  Minds

Weilheim-Schongau, Germany

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Artist's Description

Deilephila elpenor, known as the Elephant Hawk-moth, is a large moth of the Sphingidae family. Found this caterpillar on my daily morning walk in the grass next to my path.
The larva is about 75 millimetres (3.0 in) long, green and brown in colour. Like most hawk moth caterpillars, they have a backward curving spine or “horn” on the final abdominal segment. The anterior of the caterpillar appears to have the shape of a trunk-like snout. It is this elephant look, rather than its large size, that gives the moth its name. When startled, the caterpillar draws its trunk into its foremost body segment. This posture resembles a snake with a large head and four large eye-like patches. Caterpillars are preyed upon by birds, but these shy away (at least for some time) from caterpillars in “snake” pose. It is not known whether the birds take the caterpillar to actually resemble a snake, or are frightened by the sudden change of a familiar prey item into an unusual and boldly-patterned shape.

this is what the moth looks like after metamorphosis:

Artwork Comments

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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