South Yorkshire daily Star November 1st 2008
By Staff Copy,via Yorkshire Moths and my Dad
AN EXOTIC visitor from far, far away is providing a perplexing puzzle for staff at Sheffield's Botanical Gardens.
Gardeners have found a rare Death's Head Hawk Moth – a giant of its kind famous for featuring in the blockbuster chiller The Silence Of The Lambs.
The seven centimetre moth – which can boast a wingspan of up to 13 cms when fully grown and is the largest species ever seen in the UK – was found dead in the glass pavilions.
It was taken to moth enthusiast Ed Kelly, who owns the Gatehouse Gift Shop at the gardens, for identification.
Ed called in Sheffield University etymology expert Richard Naylor, who was equally baffled by the exotic immigrant.
The sinister-looking creature's natural habitat is in southern Europe, and how one ended up in Sheffield is a mystery.
Ed said: "To see a moth like this is an incredibly rare event.
"Richard said they are sometimes blown here across the Channel but only a few arrive each year and they never breed here."
Specimens making it into the UK are sometimes found in southern England, but hardly ever make it north.
Ed added: "Richard wondered if it had been transported here in one of our plants or in the soil, but we've had no recent deliveries like that.
"It looks like it has just emerged from its chrysalis but has died perhaps because it is too cold.
"It is a bit gruesome – it has the distinctive skull marking on its back."
The moth will be on display in Ed's shop for the next few days and will then be donated to the university.