Wednesday 17 June 2009

A Lime Hawk Moment

I inherited from my father my love of butterflies and moths - and, with it, the June habit of scrutinising the trunks of lime trees as I pass them (a habit which can get you some funny looks). I do this, of course, in hope of seeing newly emerged lime hawk moths on the bare trunks. Some years I spot half a dozen or so (this is on urban and suburban streets), some none. This year it has been none. Then today, sitting with lunchtime sandwich and book under a tree in a small public garden in Kensington, I suddenly noticed, on the grass within a couple of feet of me - a lime hawk moth. I don't suppose I gaped and rubbed my eyes, but it would have been entirely appropriate. My first (and probably last)lime hawk of the year - and in the unlikeliest of places. It was slightly the worse for wear, with some of its colour rubbed off and the outer margin of one wing thin and gauzy - but still a very beautiful sight. I had it crawling around on my fingers for a while as I admired it close-up, then I put it on the trunk of the tree I was under, hoping it would recover its strength and fly off this evening. And the tree wasn't even a lime... A heart-lifting surprise, and a classic case of finding when you have ceased to seek.


  1. I LOVE Lime hawkmoths! (well, all of the sphingidae family equally really)

    They are so subtley beautiful, with that lustrous olivine colour and rakish serrated wings.

    I find their camouflage reminiscent of the 'dazzle' patterns used by warships in WW1 (or vice versa)

    The caterpillars are also a magical shade of lollipop green

    well spotted!

  2. Lovely -- so subtle.

  3. Andrew Sharkey, Bristol3 June 2010 at 20:09

    I have never seen one until today , it has landed on a terracotta pot and stayed there all day.

    It is the most beautiful moth I have ever seen. The Camouflage and wing cut is stunning as only nature can make.

  4. I returned home this afternoon to discover a beautiful Lime Hawk on my doorstep. I turned to google to learn more, and in doing so discovered your delightful blog.

  5. just spotted on on my fence in mansfield nottinghamshire.. will b sure to let it go now it know its just a moth

  6. I encountered three of them in my garage. Thought they were pests. Killed all three...swiftly.

  7. i just saw one on a tree in a park in bristol!

  8. i just saw one on a tree in a park in bristol!

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