No,this is not a snake,but that’s what you are supposed to think!
We have looked at the caterpillars of Elephant Hawkmoths before,but this recent picture is too good to let pass!
When I spotted it atop a tall willowherb stem,it was big, dark and very conspicuous.
In fact I spotted it from my van!
Caterpillars are normally superbly disguised on their food plants.
It just goes to show how much faith this creature has in it’s ability to scare the living daylights out of any predator rash enough to attack it.
Not only that,I actually know a local naturalist who can’t handle elephant hawkmoth caterpillars due to his snake phobia.
He is an intelligent professional but such is this caterpillar’s uncannily accurate impression of a snake,it sets off his phobia just as much as any genuine snake might .
Contrary to all this snake in the grass stuff,the actual adult Large Elephant Hawkmoth,is a pink and olive vision of immense beauty.
To be fair ,most of the hawkmoth family are big and striking in appearance.
It has to be admitted we don’t see many of them locally,the only trio which are at all common are this one,the Poplar Hawkmoth and the Hummingbird Hawkmoth.
Of the three I only ever tend to see the Elephant Hawkmoth in caterpillar form.
I could count on one hand the number of times I have seen the adult moth,and live in hope of catching one in my moth trap which I use for surveying moth species.
Moth traps ,having lit up the night with ultra violet light,are checked next morning in daylight,by which time the moths are all calm and settled in the catching box.
So settled in fact that they allow some extremely close up photographs.
To have that opportunity with an Elephant Hawkmoth would produce some exquisite images.
Don’t worry, if I do ever catch one,you will be the first to hear about it,and more importantly , see it !
Until then you will just have to make do with it’s snake impersonating caterpillar.
Mind you, what the caterpillar lacks in beauty,it more than makes up for in sheer amusement factor.
Unless you happen to be my snake phobic friend!