Con­volvu­lus hawk-moth

Mi­grat­ing here from North Africa, these strik­ing crea­tures are the largest moths to be found in the UK

Gardeners' World - - Contents -

This strik­ing beauty hail­ing from Africa is the largest moth found in the UK

Con­volvu­lus hawk-moth Agrius con­volvuli

DID YOU KNOW? A large brown-grey moth with a pink and black striped body, the con­volvu­lus hawk-moth closely re­sem­bles the privet hawk­moth. It’s a mi­grant from Africa, with adults fly­ing to Europe to breed be­tween June and Au­gust, and their off­spring some­times com­ing to Bri­tain and Ire­land be­tween Au­gust and Novem­ber. The male has heav­ier mark­ings than the fe­male, with thicker and longer an­ten­nae, and some­times a broad cen­tral cross-band. Hawk-moths usu­ally hold the wings close to the body while rest­ing. They are noc­tur­nal, and rest by day on walls and tree trunks. They are at­tracted to light and will read­ily come to moth traps. They are un­able to over­win­ter in the UK.

DIET Adults have an un­usu­ally long proboscis ( mouth­part) and drink nec­tar from flow­ers that other moths can’t reach, such as the to­bacco plant ( nico­tiana), petu­nias, lilies and phlox. The cater­pil­lars feed on bindweed ( con­volvu­lus).

LIFECYCLE Adults live for about five weeks, dur­ing sum­mer/au­tumn. Although larvae are some­times found in Bri­tain, it doesn’t reg­u­larly breed here.

HABI­TAT Any­where with long tubu­lar flow­ers and bindweed, in­clud­ing gar­dens, al­lot­ments and parks. Mostly coastal ar­eas in south and east Eng­land, although the hawk moth has been found as far north as the Shet­land Is­lands.


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