Lime Hawkmoth, Mimas tiliae

 Lime Hawk-moth female (Mimas tiliae) © 2008 Steve Ogden

The Lime Hawkmoth, Mimas tiliae, is a member of the large Sphingidae family of Hawkmoths.

It’s found in areas of deciduous woodland throughout much of the southern half of England and Europe.

It has a wingspan of up to approximately 80 mm and flies in a single generation from May to July in northern regions with a second generation in warmer parts of its range.

Despite having variable brown and green ground colouring to the forewings it’s an easily recognisable species.

Females generally having a brown ground colour to the forewing while males tend to be greener. The central, irregular shaped, dark bar is commonly broken but may be complete or occasionally absent.

Lime Hawkmoth (Mimas tiliae) brown form © 2005 Steve Ogden

Adult Lime Hawkmoths don’t feed.

Both males and females are attracted to light.

The normally browner females can be reliably identified by their swollen and straighter abdomen when compared to the slimmer and upward curving abdomen of the males.

Photographs of the Lime Hawkmoths shown are of different coloured forms attracted to light in south west England.

More Hawkmoth information and sightings from around the world can be seen in the Hawkmoth galleries, species pages
and British caterpillar gallery.

Latest news and sightings

 Lime Hawk-moth male (Mimas tiliae) © 2006 Steve Ogden

Help with caterpillar identification

Recommended Hawkmoth reference books

The Hawk Moths of North America – James. P. Tuttle.
Hawkmoths of the Western Palearctic – Pittaway.
The Colour Identification Guide to Caterpillars of the British Isles – Jim Porter.
Caterpillars of Eastern North America – David. L Wagner.
Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland – Waring, Townsend and Lewington.
Moths of the British Isles – Bernard Skinnner.

Lime Hawkmoth life cycle, Mimas tiliae

Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae) 5mm larva © 2014 Steve OgdenLime Hawkmoth eggs (Mimas tiliae) © 2015 Steve Ogden


Eggs are laid in small batches on the larval foodplant – a variety of deciduous leaves including lime, birch, elm and alder (ref Porters – see recommended reference books).

Females attracted to light readily lay eggs and the hatching larvae are easily reared through.

Eggs hatch within 7-10 days depending on temperature.

The caterpillars can be found throughout the summer and into September.

The fully grown caterpillars pupate in the soil and overwinter as a pupa.

Emergence occurs in May.

In southern Europe there are two generations – May and August (ref A.R Pittaway – see recommended reference books)

Lime Hawkmoth caterpillar, Mimas tiliae

Lime Hawkmoth caterpillar fully grown © N Taylor 2015Lime Hawkmoth caterpillar fully grown © N Taylor 2015

Lime Hawkmoth blue tail spike © 2006 Steve Ogden

The fully grown Lime Hawkmoth caterpillar has a maximum length of 65mm.

Notable features of the caterpillar are the curved blue tail horn with hints of red and yellow on the underside.

Beneath the tail horn is a small cluster of raised yellowy orange tubercles.

A less common form has a row of small, red, sub dorsal patches as seen in the photo taken by Mair Jones.

Other Hawkmoth caterpillars can be seen in the Hawkmoth galleries and British caterpillar gallery.

Latest news and sightings

Lime Hawkmoth caterpillar photo Mair JonesLime Hawkmoth caterpillar photo Mair Jones

Lime Hawkmoth caterpillar prepupating photo Sylvia Ledger

Lime Hawkmoth prepupating caterpillar, Mimas tiliae

The prepupating caterpillars are brownish grey, sprinkled with white tubercles.

These prepupating caterpillars are commonly recorded in late summer on urban pavements lined with lime trees when wandering in search of a place to pupate

The pupae may be found buried just below the surface of the soil beneath trees of the larval foodplant.

The pupae overwinter with the adult Hawkmoth emerging in May.

Lime Hawk-moth (Mimas tiliae) prepupating caterpillar © 2006 Steve Ogden

Other commonly sighted Hawkmoth caterpillars in the British Isles include the Elephant Hawkmoth, Privet Hawkmoth, Eyed Hawkmoth and Poplar Hawkmoth.

Other Hawkmoths that occur in the British Isles as migrants but are common in parts of Southern Europe, The Middle East and Africa are –
The Death’s Head Hawkmoth, Convolvulus Hawkmoths, The Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Striped Hawkmoth and Oleander Hawkmoth.

Photographs and sightings of caterpillars, moths and butterflies from around the world are appreciated and will be added to the site with accreditation. The copyright of photographs remains with the photographer.