A couple of weeks ago, I was busy in the garden doing some tidying before the approach of harsher weather, when I encountered this little critter (pictured below) making his way across the lawn (at an alarmingly rapid pace for a caterpillar!). It’s an Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillar, apparently fairly common in the u.k., though this is only the fourth time in my life that I’ve come across one.
I popped it in a plant pot so I could search for a suitable safe place to put it. The eye markings are false eyes. It puffs itself up to make itself look intimidating, with a good degree of success I think. Last summer, I read in a local newspaper how one family had called the R.S.P.C.A. (Royal Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) to report having found a baby snake. Of course, it was investigated and found to be an Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillar and was returned to the outdoors. I was amused, but completely understood how it could be mistaken for a baby snake.
Pictured below is a clearer photo from the internet.
By now, I hope my little friend is safely cocooned inside its chrysalis, ready for the ongoing winter transformation from caterpillar to moth. Below is a picture of what it will look like.
You can find more information about Elephant Hawkmoths at the Woodland Trust.