Is It An Elephant Or A Snake?

Elephant-Hawk-moth-Jul-13It’s July and summer is well-and-truly here. You might think that this means that wildlife is thriving but that’s not always the case. July is your last chance to see an adult Elephant Hawk-moth before they all die-off.

Elephant Hawk-moths are colourful things with shades of pink and green decorating their wings and bodies. They are also quite large and have a wingspan of up to 7cm. But you will only see them on the wing between May and July, so if you haven’t seen one yet this year go out and look! They can be found almost anywhere from woodland to urban gardens where they feed on nectar from flowers such as honeysuckle.

Elephant-Hawk-moth-caterpillarNoticeable as adult Elephant Hawk-moths, their caterpillars (or technically ‘larvae’ as they are moths, not butterflies) are a sight to behold. Around August time you may notice an unusually-large caterpillar munching its way through your fuchsias. It’s from this caterpillar that the moth gets its name – it is said to resemble an elephant’s trunk (it is big, but not that big!).

Actually, the caterpillar does mimic another creature for its defence, but it’s not an elephant. When in danger the larva sits up and its head expands. On either side of the head are two spots and, when the head swells, these bear a striking resemblance to eyes. Any would-be predator seeing this will suddenly find itself face-to-face with what looks like a snake – enough to frighten away most birds and mammals looking for an easy meal!

Come the autumn the caterpillars become pupae and they remain in this state until the following spring when they emerge as adults and the whole cycle starts again.

If you’re interested in the natural world then you might like our Nature quizzes. We have more than 60, and each of them is free to play. Have a go and test your natural history knowledge today. Who knows what natural wonders are just waiting to be discovered at the click of a mouse!

If you’d like to know more about Elephant Hawk-moths then why not take a look at the Wildlife Trusts’ website? This charity helps to conserve Britain’s wildlife and they have loads of information about many different species from the alder to the zebra spider. Here at Education Quizzes we can heartily recommend them.

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