A pile of leaves is a great winter home for many caterpillars and pupae, where they can spend the coldest moths of the year safe from freezing temperatures and predators.

Elephant Hawk-moth
Elephant Hawk-moth

One of the most striking and exciting moths to spot in the summer is the Elephant Hawk-moth. Adult Elephant Hawk-moths are usually spotted from May to July in the UK. They fly from dusk, feed on honeysuckle and other tubular flowers and will come to light, so are often seen in gardens.

Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar on a plant
Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar

Their very large caterpillars are equally striking, with noticeable eye markings, and feed on willowherb and fuschias.

But come winter, these large, striking insects become pupae in fragile cocoons, hidden at the base of plants in loose plant debris or leaf litter. Hard to spot, they are at risk of being swept up by tidy gardeners and discarded or – worse – burnt on fires.


Elephant Hawk-moth cocoon in leaf litter
Elephant Hawk-moth cocoon

The Elephant Hawk-moth pupae is just one of a multitude of insects seeking safe haven in your garden this winter, which is why we are asking you to Do Nothing for Nature this winter and leave the garden alone!

The more wild space we can give insects throughout the winter, the more butterflies and moths we’ll be able to see and enjoy in spring and summer.


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