Subject: Cigar Caterpillar
Location: Austria, 47°11’00.76″ N 15°29’22.96″ E
October 4, 2014 10:27 pm
Greetings from Austria!
I found this caterpillar on Sunday, September28 near Graz, Austria. The temperature was in the 60s and it seemed to be lumbering along the street, perhaps looking for a place to wrap itself up for the winter. The area is mountainous (ca. 2300 ft) with mixed deciduous and coniferous trees. The caterpillar was about four inches long, and I wondered if the spots at the head would be translated into the moth (?) it would become.
Thanks for being bug liaisons!
Signature: N. Fritz
Dear N. Fritz,
This interesting caterpillar is an Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillar, Deilephila elpenor, and according to the UK Moth site: “The English name of this moth is derived from the caterpillar’s fanciful resemblance to an elephant’s trunk. The adults are attractively coloured pink and green affairs, with a streamlined appearance. They fly from May to July, visiting flowers such as honeysuckle (Lonicera) for nectar. The larvae feed mainly on rosebay willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium), but also other plants as well, including bedstraw (Galium).” According to Made By Mother Eagle: “When startled, the caterpillar draws its trunk into its foremost body segment. This posture resembles a snake with a large head and four large eye-like patches. Caterpillars are preyed upon by birds, but these shy away (at least for some time) from caterpillars in “snake” pose. It is not known whether the birds take the caterpillar to actually resemble a snake, or are frightened by the sudden change of a familiar prey item into an unusual and boldly-patterned shape.”