Poplar Hawk Moth

The poplar hawk-moth (latin name Laothoe populi) is a moth of the family Sphingidae and derives its english name from its association with the Poplar tree, which the moth larvae like to feed on. It is found in many parts of the world – Europe, Northern Asia, North Africa and parts of the Middle and Near East. It is a large, chunky creature, with a wingspan of 65 to 90 mm.

Probably the most common of all the hawk-moths, the Poplar Hawk Moth positions itself strangely when at rest, with the hind-wings held in front of the forewings, and the abdomen curved upwards at the rear. If disturbed it can flash the hindwings, displaying a (normally hidden) colourful and contrasting rufous patch to scare away would-be-predators.

Distributed commonly throughout most of Britain, the adults are on the wing from May to July, when it is a frequent visitor around homes and people at night due to its natural attraction to light. The larvae caterpillars like to feed on poplar (Populus), aspen (P. tremula) and sallow (Salix).

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