Rare moth larva is found in Elmer garden

The death head hawk moth larva found by Pam Andrews SUS-141023-123125001
The death head hawk moth larva found by Pam Andrews SUS-141023-123125001

AN ELMER Sands resident was shocked to discover a rare moth outside her home.

Pam Andrews thought the bright yellow object on the lawn in her back garden was a piece of plastic tubing or a firework casing. But it came to life when she picked it up to throw it away after she had left her dogs out in the garden,

Pam, 65, of Layne Way, said: 
“I got the biggest shock of my life when it moved.”

She contacted her dogs’ vet surgery for help in identifying the creature. They referred her to Brent Lodge animal centre. A quick identity was soon established after Pam emailed a photo of the mystery animal.

The experts said it was the larva of a death’s head hawk moth, or Acherontia Atropos.

“They said it was very rare in this country, but it was unlikely to survive the winter,” said Pam.

She has nestled the 6in-long larva in a bed of leaves and mud in her greenhouse while she tries to find a butterfly centre willing to take it in to give it a good chance of becoming an adult.

She is unsure how the larva arrived at her home. But she had another of the three species of the moth there two years in a row. “That was a very small moth, brown with black spots, which has a definite small face and which was quite soft.

”The death’s head hawk moth has a more snake-like texture,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to know it if it does survive because it has a ten-inch wingspan.”