There are certain species groups in nature that create excitement amongst enthusiasts. In birds it is the raptors, in flowers it is orchids and in moths it is the hawk-moths. The privet hawk-moth (Sphinx ligustri) is an absolute beauty to behold, over two inches in body length and nearly four inches wide when the wings are fully spread they can seem like bats flying if you see one at your window.
Close up, in the light of day, they are superb with a pink and black body and strikingly marked wings that actually provide excellent camouflage whilst at rest. Sadly, most people will never see one as they are certainly nocturnal and not seen during the day but the large bright green caterpillar with a spiked tail can be found whilst gardening and pruning shrubs.
The privet hawk-moth can be seen from May until September as, in favourable years it can have more than one brood. It is widespread and inhabits gardens, woodlands and similar habitats, it frequently turns up in enthusiasts moth traps and is quite common.
Not surprisingly the food plants of the larvae include wild privet but they also occur on lilac, holly and ash.Sphinx ligustri: the privet hawk-moth