Small Elephant Hawk-moth Sphingidae

Deilephila porcellus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan 47-56mm. Adults are pinkish red in colour. The dorsal surface of the abdomen is ochreous yellow. The forewings are deep ochreous yellow with brownish crosslines. The outer margin of the forewing is pink. The hindwings are ochreous yellow with brown towards the costal area and pink at the outer margin.

Similar Species: The Elephant Hawk-moth D. elpenor which is larger and more widespread.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: From late May until the end of July.

Status: A scarce species, with recent records confined to a few coastal sites in south Down, Antrim and Londonderry. It has found in the past at a few inland localities, at Loughgall, Aughanlig and Poyntzpass in north Armagh but there are no recent records. Its stronghold seems to be in southeast Down at Killard Point, where it has been seen in reasonable numbers in 1996 and 1999. Other sites with recent records include Murlough NNR, Down, Larne, Antrim, and Castlerock, Londonderry. It seems plausible in view of its coastal distribution that other small colonies may exist along other parts of the Down and Antrim coastline. Given its distribution in southern Ireland it might also await discovery in the limestone areas of Fermanagh.

Ecology: An attractive moth that occurs mainly on coastal grassland in N. Ireland. Adults hover while feeding at flowers from dusk onwards. They are attracted to light and can appear in reasonable numbers in favoured localities. The larvae can be found from July until September on bedstraw Galium spp. It overwinters as a pupa.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 1992 Agassiz number: 69.017

Additional information:

UK Moths account


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