Poplar Hawk Moth… a different view

Seeing the fantastic insect photographs being posted to the Ireland’s Wildlife Facebook Page this month prompted me to browse my photo archives, and I thought I’d share this with you on the blog.

The poplar hawk moth (Laothoe populiis) an incredibly striking insect… based on a 1981 distribution map it can (or at least could) be found all over Ireland, but because, like many moths, it’s nocturnal, is rarely seen.

I got the chance to photograph this striking individual at a Biodiversity Day at Manch Estate a few years ago. It had been caught in a light trap. Here are a couple of shots for you… one conventional view of the whole animal from above showing it’s outstanding camouflage… and the other from a somewhat alternative, but I think much more interesting perspective.

Poplar Hawk Moth (Laothoe populiis): an alternative viewLaothoe populiis -- The Poplar Hawk Moth

An absolutely stunning animal, I think you’ll agree!

About Calvin Jones

Calvin Jones is a freelance writer, author, birder and lifelong wildlife enthusiast. He is founder and managing editor of IrelandsWildlife.com. He is also the tour leader and wildlife guide on our West Cork based Discover Wildlife tours.
Calvin is also co-author of bestselling digital marketing titles and offers digital business consulting services and training through Digital Marketing Success


  1. Calvin, Well done on the web site and good luck with it. A good area to discuss species and ID etc. Re the Poplar Hawk moth – I came across the caterpillar last year (see my Flickr photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturescalendar/4860014027/in/set-72157624156192508) and watched it develop into an adult moth. The caterpillar first ate just about every Poplar leaf I gave it – then went ‘asleep’ hanging off a branch by a thread – then turned black like it had died (well I though so anyway) and fell to the ground which I had covered in fine sand. After several weeks the bullet-like black capsule burst open and the adult emerged. It was amazing to watch. Cheers, Paul.
    ps: will put a link to you from http://www.biology.ie

    • Thanks Paul,

      They are amazing creatures… never seen one of the caterpillars. Must have been quite something to witness the metamorphosis into the adult moth. Would love to show the kids that.

      I’ll have links up to Irish wildlife resources around the web — including Biology.ie — soon. Just trying to work out the best way of structuring / managing a resources directory.

  2. Katherine says:

    Hi, I’m writing from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada….I came across a Popular Hawk Moth Caterpillar today while walking my dog…It was a bright to neon green colour and about 4” long…Are they common all over the world?….First time I’ve seen one…Katherine

    • Hi Katherine… yes, the caterpillars are amazing looking things, aren’t they?

      Poplar hawk moths are found across the Paleartic Zone that stretches from Iceland right across to the far east, and are one of the most common hawk moths found in that region. As far as I can tell though it is not generally found in North America.

      Could your caterpillar be the larvae of a similar North American species, perhaps? I’m not well up on American moths, so hard to say. Maybe you could check online, see what you can find out.

      • Ady baxter says:

        I have an image or hawk moths mating using my hanging basket saffina flower I could not believe it as never seen the moth before as I live in Norwich Norfolk England I was surprised to see it

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