The Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar resembles an elephant’s trunk (hence the name, of course). These caterpillars are the larvae of an elephant hawk moth, and they have a diverse diet. But, what do elephant hawk moth caterpillars actually eat?
Elephant hawk moth caterpillars have a diet consisting mainly of plants and veggies. They love eating kale, lettuce, fuchsias, and many other plants and veggies. They are not fussy eaters!
Elephant hawk moth caterpillars eat various plant species for their diet. They eat anything from willow trees to poisonous field bindweed.
Most animals avoid eating these plants because of their poisonous nature, but the hawk moth caterpillar isn’t bothered by the poisons these plants have.
Hawk moth caterpillars absorb these poisonous chemicals when they’re feeding and can use the absorbed chemicals as a defensive manoeuvre against predators.
Unlike many other moth larvae, elephant hawk moth caterpillars can also feed on fruits.
In summer, they feed on lettuce, corn cobs, and cabbage. Fuchsia bushes are a top food source for these caterpillars too.
The larvae of elephant hawk moths also eat nectar from a wide range of plants. They love eating nectar from flowering plants and plant matter.
The long and short of it is that elephant hawk moth caterpillars are not fussy!
Elephant hawk moth caterpillars will not eat plants with rough foliage or hairy stems like cranesbill geraniums.
Yes, if the infestation is large enough then elephant hawk moth caterpillars can drain all of the life out of your plants and kill them completely.
What Do Elephant Hawk Moths Eat?
An elephant hawk moth caterpillar pupates into a cocoon to become a beautiful elephant hawk moth. An elephant hawk moth is a big and easily recognizable flying insect because of its unique bright pink colouring and patterned wings.
Adults are often seen during dusk when they’re most active. They sometimes rest on tree trunks during the daytime or near garden lamps and lights in the evening.
Elephant hawk moths feed on nectar, like butterflies. They like long tubular flowers like honeysuckle.
They don’t actually consume anything else. They won’t eat your plants. They won’t ruin your vegetables. They won’t destroy your fruits. Instead, they will pollinate plants and feast on their nectar.
Elephant hawk moths have long proboscis tongues that look like straws. These long straw-like tongues help the moths to suck up nectar like butterflies. When an elephant hawk-moth drinks from a flower, its long tongue picks up the pollen.
The pollen is then spread to flowers as far as 18 miles away in the moth’s feeding route. Countless plants rely on the elephant hawk moth for pollination as these moths are usually the only ones that feed on their nectar.
However, hawk moths do not pollinate food crops, so they aren’t very famous or helpful to the farming industry.
However, certain species of plants are heavily reliant on elephant hawk moths. If elephant hawk moths and other species of hawk moths didn’t exist, many plants would’ve gotten endangered or extinct.
Why are They Called Elephant Hawk Moths?
The elephant hawk moth has “elephant” in its name mainly because the caterpillar of the elephant hawk moth looks like the trunk of an elephant. The caterpillars mimic snakes to look intimidating when a predator gets near.
This defensive manoeuvre helps the caterpillar protect itself so it can safely eat enough to grow into the beautiful elephant hawk moth.
So elephant hawk moths don’t look anything like an elephant. But the name is from when they were a caterpillar.
Elephant hawk moth caterpillars, like most caterpillars, are voracious eaters and rely heavily on various plants and veggies for their diet. They adore feeding on fuchsia, kale, lettuce, and many other plants and vegetables – unfortunately, no list is exhaustive!
They are big, intimating-looking caterpillars due to their colours, size, and pair of fake eyes to appear like a snake to their predators.
They also like eating willow trees, cherry trees, and field bindweed. These plants are poisonous, but hawk moth caterpillars don’t have a problem with their chemicals.
Instead, they use the poisonous chemicals as a defensive mechanism to avoid being eaten by predators. They also feed on fruits.
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden