Poplar Hawk-moth Sphingidae

Laothoe populi (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan 72-92mm. Adults have ashy grey or pinkish brown forewings with a broad darker central band. The forewings are finely scalloped and have a small white discal spot. The hindwings are similarly coloured but also have a large red basal patch. The moth adopts an unusual resting position, where the hindwings are clearly visible and held above the forewings, resembling withered leaves.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: From late April until the beginning of September.

Status: This is by far the most frequently encountered hawk-moth in N. Ireland. Common and widespread throughout all counties including Rathlin Island, Antrim.

Ecology: Occurs in many habitats including offshore islands, many coastal localities and urbanised areas. Adults appear frequently at light in moderate numbers. Adults of this hawk-moth do not feed. The general public frequently finds them during the day resting on walls and fence posts. The larvae can be found from early summer onwards, although they are more frequently seen during August and September, when almost fully grown on willows Salix spp. and poplars Populus spp. They can often be found by carefully searching the lower branches of small isolated trees. It overwinters as a pupa.

World Distribution: Throughout Europe as far east as Russia and Syria.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 1981 Agassiz number: 69.003

Additional information:

UK Moths account


 Thompson, R. S. & Nelson, B., 2003 (Oct 2). [In] The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland