Bug Eyed Monster Caterpillar!

The Giant Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillar

I saw this beauty crawling across my path the other day, and could hardly believe it!

hawkmoth caterpillarMeasuring at just about 3.5 inches fully stretched out, it is the largest Caterpillar I have ever seen in the garden – I immediately feared for my poor veggies 🙂

“This beggar could eat a cabbage in one sitting” say’s I  (I’m prone to a bit exaggeration). However there was no need to be alarmed. As big as it is, it is not regarded as a garden pest – unless you have some prize Rosebay Willowherb or fuschias that you are trying to protect (good luck with that one!) both of which are included in their preferred diet.

The cabbages and Tomato plants can breath a sigh of relief!

What is it?

elephants trunk hawkmoth caterpillar

rosebay willowherb
This highly invasive willowherb is the favourite food for ‘Trunky’ here so I’m quite happy for him to snack away!

It is of course the larvae of the Elephant Hawkmoth, which incidently loves to feed in the evening on the nectar of the honeysuckle plant.

I presume the name comes from the elephants trunk-like look that it has going on there.

Overall a fascinating creature, it has 4 ‘eyes’ that are actually just designs that enlarge when it feels threatened – which look pretty effective I must say – I know many people who would run a mile from this baby 🙂

elephants trunk caterpillar


Best Selling author of several no-dig gardening books, James has over 40 years of gardening knowledge and experience to share with like-minded gardening enthusiasts.

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