Thursday 9 August 2012

Home Patch (27): Hawkmoth Caterpillar for Elevenses

I was having a cup of coffee by the window when what appeared at first glance to be a wriggling leaf turned out on closer inspection to be a bright green caterpillar, being attacked by a Great tit. I apologise for the quality of the photos (which serve as record shots): the Photinia was very dark and the light in the garden, shadowy.

The small bird went to great lengths over the space of ten minutes to make an inroad into the large, lively and almost luminous caterpillar. 
I eventually swapped my camera for my binoculars, and was able to see much more clearly. The caterpillar had a distinctive horn.
I know very little about moths as I have said before. My guess is that the green caterpillar would have turned into a Poplar Hawk-moth, Laothoe populi. In some parts of the world it seems that Hawk-moths are known as Sphinx moths or Hornworms: I would prefer to call this caterpillar the Green Unicorn! You might be interested to read Archie Ritter's piece on the subject of these lepidoptera here.

The Great tit finally won the day, so one less moth for our garden ...
... but we did have a beautiful Red Admiral on the Buddleia.

P.S. My post on the Hummingbird Hawk-moth ... is here.

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