Whilst down at Fulbrook Nursery with the GScapes crew, choosing plants for the Bushnell stand at Birdfair this weekend, we spotted these huge caterpillars on the Rosebay Willowherb. I was not sure what they were, but knew they were a hawkmoth of some kind. I seemed to remember that the elephant hawk moths were the pink ones, that mimicked the pink on the Willowherb, but had to double check when I got home. I was also confused as Martin at the nursery said he sees bright green versions as well. I have since discovered that the caterpillars exist in a green and a brown form. They often become darker as they mature as well.
I wanted to be able to have a close look at these, so I returned home with two of them and a large pot of willowherb!
They are amazing caterpillars with two pairs of false eyes on the top of their head which make them seem larger than they actually are and serve as a display to frighten away predators. The bulge in their body makes it look like they have a large head… and even snake-like… and many people are confused as to what they are when they find them.
I obviously had to take some pictures of these beauties before positioning them on my Fuchsia bush as that is another of their preferred food stuffs and they were soon munching away! They pupate into lead litter/soil and I hope they will choose to lay their eggs on my Fuchsia bush nest spring when they emerge!