Monday, 28 July 2014

Why are some Elephant Hawkmoth larvae green and others black?

Black Elephant Hawkmoth with trunk extended
Gardening can be hot, sweaty and boringly repetitive, especially when weeding, but every now and then something magical crops up.

Today’s discovery was an unusual caterpillar or larva which I’d never seen before. But I was surprised when someone replied to my Tweet that it was the larva of an elephant hawkmoth – I’d seen one of those before and it was bright green.

How come the larvae of the elephant hawkmoth can be such different colours? Both share the huge ‘eyes’ and trunk like proboscis.
Green Elephant Hawkmoth with scary big eyes! 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to @wildaboutnature and @lotmoths I now know there is also a tan version of the elephant hawkmoth. But why are there these different 'morphs'? @lotmoths suggests it may be a crypsis thing. Crypsis? According to Wikipedia ....In ecology, crypsis is the ability of an organism to avoid observation or detection by other organisms. It may be either a predation strategy or an antipredator adaptation, and methods include camouflage, nocturnality, subterranean lifestyle, transparency, and mimicry. The word can also be used in the context of eggs and pheromone production. Crypsis can in principle involve visual, olfactory or auditory camouflage.