The moth coming to Britain: top 10 weird and wonderful facts

The unusually large Convulvulus Hawk-moth is increasingly migrating to the UK from Southern Europe. How much do you know about it?

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The Convolvulus Hawk-moth is one of the largest moths in Europe. According to conservationists, many are moving to Britain in large numbers this autumn. Ahead of this year’s Moth Night, experts are urging the public to keep an eye out for the Convulvulus and other migrant species. Here are 10 facts that you probably didn’t know about this palm-sized moth:

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1. The Convolvulus Hawk-moths has a tongue that is larger than its bodies.

Equipped with such a long tongue – like many but not all species – it is often able to reach the nectar at the base of flowers.

2. It likes to feast on tobacco plants

It regularly feeds off the nectar of the deep tubular flowers of tobacco plants.

3. Nature enthusiasts attempt to trap them by soaking ropes with wine, another of the moth’s favourites.

Moth-lovers regularly also attempt “sugaring”, which involves painting tree trunks or posts with sugar, syrup and beer.

4. Its wingspan can be up to 12cm, the length of an iPhone 5

Unsurprisingly, it is therefore easily one of the biggest moths around.
 

5. Adult moths can live up to five weeks

The life expectancy of a moth depends massively on the species. Silkworm moths tend to only last a week or so. Sphinx moths live for two to three months.
 

6. It has large eyes, which can help it find its favourite flower, even in reduced light.
 

7. Just a few hundred are normally spotted in the UK per year

Moth-lovers, however, are optimistic that the influx this autumn will be greater.

8. During the day you would be lucky to find it given how well camouflaged it is on tree trunks

They have light grey wings, marbled with darker streaks.

9. The larvae of the moths feed on bindweeds, which have the Latin name ‘Convolvulaceae’, hence what they’re called

10. The moths’ move to the UK from Southern Europe usually happens in late summer and early autumn

They are drawn in from the continent by warm winds. Time will tell as to whether it will join other migrant species which became established UK residents, including the Oak Rustic, Flame Brocade and Tree-lichen Beauty.

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Words: Shanda Moorghen