The Birth Of A Hawk Moth


At the end of last summer I found two caterpillars alongside a road. Normally I don't interfere with nature, but these caterpillars were trying to make their way into the soft sand of a construction side, which was soon going to be getting a layer of cement. It was also pretty late in the season, so I decided to try to save them.

I looked up online  what kind of caterpillars they were and found out that they were Hawk Moths. 
The Hyles gallii to be exact. These moths have a very low survival rate but when they survive all their natural enemies + us humans, they can grow into gorgeous colourful moths with a wingspan reaching 55 to 80 mm.

They eat bedstraw, which grows abundantly here in Sweden during the summer and they are fairly easy to take care of. I made them a home in a big glass container, gave them fresh soil, some twigs and lots of bedstraw flowers and leaves. After going to town on the bedstraw they were ready to go into their pupa stage. 

After a week or two I should have put the glass container in the fridge to mimic the winter temperatures, but I didn't know that back then. So at the end of winter, with no flowers outside for moths to feed on, one of them emerged from it's cocoon and I felt terrible. I couldn't keep it inside and if I would let him out he would freeze and die. After feeding it some honey water I sneaked my moth into a garden center nearby where he had all the nectar in the world!

When I got home, I immediately put the second pupa in the fridge and as soon as the first spring flowers emerged this year I put him outside and checked on him every day. And all of a sudden...he was gone and I could see a big fat raven smiling at me. I was convinced that the raven had him for lunch.


On the first real summer day of the year I took advantage of the weather and moved my office outside. Tucked away under the shade of a tree I was typing away when all of a sudden I heard a unfamiliar sound and noticed movement under the rose bush. A snake was making it's way through the grass looking for a spot in the sunshine, just like me. 

I gave him my spot and picked a safer spot on the porch. 

After soaking up the sun for a few hours I suddenly felt something landing on my leg. My mind went to the snake and without even looking under the table what was "attacking" me I tried to get it of my leg as soon as a could, but there was no snake. 

It was a tiny fuzzy Hawk moth that had emerged from it's cocoon only seconds ago, his wings still folded against his body.


Now I don't know how he got there but I found his cocoon a couple meters away from his glass container, so my guess is that the big fat Raven dropped the cocoon after stealing it.

I carefully picked him up and put him on the lavender plant next to me and watched him slowly come to life. You can see the yellow liquid running alongside his wings which helps him prepare and harden for his first flight. This can take between 30 minutes to a couple hours. 


After a while his second set of wings appeared underneath the first and when the Moth had a couple hours in the sun he made his first try at flying. He landed on my arm, no quite ready yet I guess.

I thanked him for making it's way back to me and for letting me witness his beautiful birth and then I put him on a safer spot, close to our porch, when I woke up the next morning the moth was gone.
Big fat Raven I hope that you spared this beautiful Moth, he has been fighting really hard to survive. If you didn't...then it was supposed to happen that way. Circle of life.

MusingsIris Nabalo