I was heading home from Cosmeston after a lovely wander but not having seen much in the way of wildlife when this superb creature appeared on the pavement in front of me – actually, it was lucky I didn’t stand on it!
There was a family walking along not far behind me and I feared their combination of feet, pushchair and trike wheels might squish the creature so I quickly scooped it up and walked to a small area of waste ground where it might take shelter amongst the tall grasses, wildflowers and low scrub.
If you’ve never seen one, this is the caterpillar of the Elephant hawk-moth. It feeds on a variety of plants, particularly Rosebay willowherb, but also the other willowherbs, bedstraws, even Himalayan balsam, so can be found where those wildflowers grow. This particular caterpillar looked very well grown so may have been seeking a place to pupate (remember that pupal case I found back in April?). Let’s hope it found a cosy spot under the leaf litter in its new location.
I saw one today too on some Himalayan Balsam.
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Well spotted and what a great natural control for an invasive plant.