Friday, 7 August 2009

Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar




5 comments:

Paul Talbot..aka Moffman said...

Hi Ian/Tina
I assume you spotted the cat on Rosebay Willowherb?

A good tip for finding these spectacular cats is to go looking around late afternoon or early evening. Find a patch of Willowherb and get down low with the sun facing you and look upwards into the plants. Elephant Hawk cats love to sunbath near the top 18 inches of the plant BELOW the leaves where they are hidden from above but easily spotted as a silhouette against the sunlight. The cats are dead easy to rear through and pupate and they usually over-winter very easily in a cool shed or garage.

I have pictures of one Sue and I rescued from a road here in N Wales and then kept through winter until it emerged in June this year. It can be seen at the link below.

http://wildllyn.blogspot.com/2009_06_01_archive.html

ian and tina said...

Thanks for the tips. It was our neighbours that came across 2 in their garden. One was on an isolated willowherb plant, the other under the BBQ. We are rearing them.
I've read that they pupate in leave litter - do we need to suply them with some, or are they not so fussy, will an egg box do ?

ian and tina said...

Also, my guess is that they are close to pupating. Can you tell from the pics if this is the case ?
Cheers.

Paul Talbot..aka Moffman said...

Most cats start to wander around their container when ready to pupate and they also tend to develope a deeper skin colour. Elephant hawks do best if you put them in a container with around 3inches of dry peat or potting compost (make sure it does not contain any insecticides). If you keep putting fresh food on the surface they will continue to feed until ready to pupate. They burrow into the soil to pupate. Leave them for around 6 weeks and then gently tip out the soil and find the pupa. Just put these in a container on top of some more peat and leave them in the garage until May or so as they must be kept at near normal temperatures to stop them emerging early. In May check the pupa, if they are still Ok they will move or if you are brave enough, touch the tip of your tongue to the pupa and if its still alive it will feel cold. I then move mine to an old sweet jar with some more peat in the bottom and add some twigs for the emerging moth to climb up to dry and expand its wings. Its best to release them into some thick undergrowth the day they emerge as they tend to fly around and damage themselves as they need to feed the first night after they emerge.

ian and tina said...

I knew many cats get restless before they pupate - I was thinking this was the reason one was found under the BBQ, quite some distance from willow-herb plants. It seems not to be the case however, they're both still happy to munch on willow-herb leaves at the moment.