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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

15 July, 2016

Sphinx ligustri: the privet hawk-moth

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