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We found a Privet Hawk-moth caterpillar!


I, like anyone with a bit of goth in them, love Death's-head moths. 
From the iconic imagery in Silence Of The Lambs to the spooky skull on their backs, they are fascinating. 
When I wanted to use a moth in my wallpaper I thought of Death's-head moth first. But that obstinate part of me that wants to walk the path less travelled decided to look for something else. 
After much procrastinating and a lovely time flipping through my butterfly books I  decided to draw the Privet Hawkmoth. (Isn't that the best part of creation? When it's all glorious and fluctuating thoughts that effortlessly morph into exactly what your mind can see. Before your hands get involved, and the messy business of work and perseverance have to take over. Muddying your beautiful thoughts with the ever tedious practical and real)
privet hawk-moth
Photo by Roger Hatcliffe
These are the UK's biggest species of Hawk-moth. They fly in June and July, so as I'm writing this you may be able to see some! 
The caterpillars eat  PrivetGuelder-rose, Spirea, Lilac, Ash saplings, Holly, Honeysuckle, Snowberry, Vibernum tinus and Forsythia.
What is a snowberry? (So distracting, always wanting to go off on a tangent and look up the next weird natural treasure.)
Ahem, where was I?
Sofia and I found a Privet Hawk-moth caterpillar on holiday in Fernhurst last year. 
It was MASSIVE! 
Privet Hawk-moth caterpillar
The reason I am wearing oven gloves is because I was too scared to touch it. We had to look up what is was and I was delighted to see that it was the caterpillar of the moth I had drawn. 
It had this amazing defensive posture where it reared up and sort of whipped itself at me. Quite harmless, but considering the plump size of it, impressive nevertheless. 
privet hawk-moth illustration
We have found a few other caterpillars and moths nearby that I will share with you. 
I have a soft spot for moths. Butterflies are beautiful too of course. But moths just seem darker, more interesting and tougher. 
There is a great identification guide here if you want to find out what's in your garden or park. 
Do you like moths? I'd love to hear about any you have spotted locally to you. 



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