Poplar Hawkmoth Laothoe populi  © 2008 Steve OgdenPoplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi) © 2006 Steve Ogden

Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi) © 2006 Steve Ogden

Poplar Hawkmoth, Laothoe populi

The Poplar Hawkmoth, Laothoe populi, is a member of the large Sphingidae family of Hawkmoths.

It’s a common species throughout much of the British Isles and Europe.

The moths have a wingspan of approximately 100mm and unusually for a Sphingid hold their hindwings above the forewings when at rest.


Poplar Hawkmoths fly mostly in a single generation in late Spring and early summer. A small second generation can occur in warmer regions.

Both male and females are attracted to light.

The photographs of Poplar Hawkmoths featured were taken in South West England.

Poplar Hawkmoth Laothoe populi © 2006 Steve Ogden
Other common European Hawkmoths include the Privet Hawkmoth, Eyed Hawkmoth and Lime Hawkmoth.

Migrants Hawkmoths to northern Europe from Southern Europe, The Middle East and Africa include –

The Death’s Head Hawkmoth,

Convolvulous Hawkmoths

The Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Striped Hawkmoth

Oleander Hawkmoth

Poplar Hawkmoth caterpillar, Laothoe populi

Larval foodplants include Poplar, Apple, Sallow and Aspen – see below Jim Porter book reference.

The caterpillars grow to approximately 70 mm and are generally subtle shades of yellow and green.

Pale yellow stripes, reddish spiracles and yellow tail horn can help identify from similar Lime and Eyed Hawkmoth caterpillars.

Other common larval forms with small pink/reddish blotches are shown in the photos below taken by Ellie Needham and Mary Rose.

Other photos shown are of caterpillars reared from eggs laid by a female Poplar Hawkmoth attracted to light in South West Cornwall in the UK.

Poplar Hawkmoth Laothoe populi fully grown larva 55mm © 2013 Steve OgdenPoplar Hawkmoth Laothoe populi fully grown larva 55mm © 2013 Steve Ogden

Poplar Hawkmoth Laothoe populi fully grown larva © 2013 Steve OgdenPoplar Hawkmoth  25mm larva Laothoe populi © 2013 Steve Ogden

Poplar Hawkmoth  20mm larva Laothoe populi © 2013 Steve OgdenPoplar Hawkmoth  20mm larva Laothoe populi © 2013 Steve Ogden

Poplar Hawkmoth  20mm larva Laothoe populi
Poplar Hawkmoth caterpillar head © 2013 Steve Ogden

Poplar Hawkmoth caterpillar tail spike© 2013 Steve OgdenPoplar Hawkmoth caterpillar Laothoe populi photo Ellie Needham

Poplar Hawkmoth fully grown caterpillar Laothoe populi Uk photo Mary Rose

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

Other Hawkmoth caterpillars appear in the British caterpillar gallery and Hawkmoth gallery

Help with caterpillar identification

Latest Sightings

Recommended Sphingidae (Hawkmoth, Sphinx, Hornworm) 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.