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The Eyed Hawk Moth has frightening wing markings

Posted in Insects, Nature, Wildlife on Tuesday, 18 March 2014

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This edited article about moths first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 596 published on 16 June 1973.

Eyed Hawk Moth,  picture, image, illustration

Eyed Hawk Moth

On a beautiful, spring day, you can often see gaily coloured butterflies lounging on flowers.

Often it is difficult to distinguish them from their close relative the moth, but one of the best ways is to observe them resting. Butterflies close their wings together so that they stick straight up from the back, and moths generally spread their wings out flat on the surface they’re resting on.

More than 2,000 different species of moth live in the British Isles. If your garden has an apple tree in it, the Eyed Hawk moth is probably a frequent visitor, for this is its favourite feeding place.

But you would not see it very often, for like most moths it usually flies only at night. It spends its days resting quietly on a tree trunk, and since its brown tints merge with the background, it is often overlooked.

But if the Eyed Hawk moth thinks that it’s being threatened, it will alternatively raise and lower its forewings to expose two glaring “eye” marks on the underwings. The sight of this is enough to scare off any insect-eating bird looking for a meal.

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