Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Deilephila elpenor
(large elephant hawkmoth)



Deilephila elpenor (large elephant hawkmoth)


  • Last modified
  • 15 May 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Deilephila elpenor
  • Preferred Common Name
  • large elephant hawkmoth
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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Final-instar larva (the commoner dark form) of Deilephila elpenor, the Elephant hawk moth. UK specimen feeding on Galium verum, Lady's Bedstraw.
CaptionFinal-instar larva (the commoner dark form) of Deilephila elpenor, the Elephant hawk moth. UK specimen feeding on Galium verum, Lady's Bedstraw.
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
Final-instar larva (the commoner dark form) of Deilephila elpenor, the Elephant hawk moth. UK specimen feeding on Galium verum, Lady's Bedstraw.
LarvaFinal-instar larva (the commoner dark form) of Deilephila elpenor, the Elephant hawk moth. UK specimen feeding on Galium verum, Lady's Bedstraw.©A.R. Pittaway
Adult Deilephila elpenor, the Elephant hawk moth.  UK specimen.
CaptionAdult Deilephila elpenor, the Elephant hawk moth. UK specimen.
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
Adult Deilephila elpenor, the Elephant hawk moth.  UK specimen.
AdultAdult Deilephila elpenor, the Elephant hawk moth. UK specimen.©A.R. Pittaway


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Deilephila elpenor (Linnaeus, 1758)

Preferred Common Name

  • large elephant hawkmoth

Other Scientific Names

  • Chaerocampa elpenor (Linnaeus) Walker, 1856
  • Chaerocampa lewisii Butler, 1875
  • Choerocampa elpenor (Linnaeus) Duponchel, 1835
  • Choerocampa macromera Butler, 1875
  • Metopsilus elpenor (Linnaeus) Duncan, 1836-43
  • Oreus elpenor (Linnaeus) Hübner, 1822
  • Pergesa elpenor (Linnaeus) Rothschild and Jordan, 1903
  • Pergesa elpenor macromera (Butler) Rothschild and Jordan, 1903
  • Pergesa elpenor szechuana Chu and Wang, 1980
  • Sphinx elpenor Linnaeus, 1758
  • Sphinx porcus Retzius, 1783
  • Sphynx elpenor (Linnaeus) Vogel, 1829
  • Theretra elpenor (Linnaeus) Kirby, 1892
  • Theretra lewisi (Butler) Kirby, 1892
  • Theretra macromera (Butler) Kirby, 1892

International Common Names

  • English: elephant hawkmoth, large; hawkmoth, large elephant
  • Spanish: esfinge de la vid
  • French: moyen sphinx de la vigne; sphinx de la vigne
  • Chinese: hong tian-er

Local Common Names

  • Czech Republic: iysaj vrbkovy
  • Czechoslovakia (former): lysaj vrbkový
  • Denmark: dueurtsvaermer
  • Finland: horsmakiitäjä
  • Germany: Mittlerer Weinschwärmer; Schwärmer, Mittlerer Wein-
  • Hungary: szölöszender
  • Italy: sfinge della vite
  • Netherlands: Groot Avondrood; Olifantsvlinder; vlinder, Olifants
  • Norway: stor snabelsvermer
  • Russian Federation: brazhnik, srednii vinnyi; srednii vinnyi brazhnik
  • Sweden: allmän snabelsvärmare

EPPO code

  • DEILEL (Deilephila elpenor)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Lepidoptera
  •                         Family: Sphingidae
  •                             Genus: Deilephila
  •                                 Species: Deilephila elpenor

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


AfghanistanPresentEbert, 1969
ArmeniaPresentBarrett, 1895
AzerbaijanPresentPittaway, 1993
BangladeshPresentRothschild and Jordan, 1903
ChinaWidespreadChu and Wang, 1980b
-AnhuiPresentYang, 1978
-BeijingPresentYang, 1978
-FujianPresentWang, 1993
-GuizhouPresentYang, 1978
-HebeiPresentWang and Zhao, 1993
-HeilongjiangPresentYang, 1978
-HubeiPresentWang and Zhao, 1993
-HunanPresentWang and Zhao, 1993
-JiangsuPresentChu and Wang, 1980b
-JiangxiPresentRothschild and Jordan, 1903
-JilinPresentChu et al., 1979; Wang, 1993
-ShandongPresentFletcher, 1899
-ShanghaiPresentMell, 1935
-ShanxiPresentYang, 1978
-SichuanPresentChu and Wang, 1980a; Rothschild and Jordan, 1903
-TibetPresentChu and Wang, 1980b; Zhang et al., 1986
-XinjiangPresentAlphéraky, 1882; Yang, 1978
-YunnanPresentYang, 1978
-ZhejiangPresentMell, 1935; Yang, 1978; Yang and, 1990
Georgia (Republic of)PresentPittaway, 1993
IndiaRestricted distributionBell and Scott, 1937
-AssamPresentRothchild & Jordan, 1903; D'Abrera, 1986
-MeghalayaPresentBell and Scott, 1937
-SikkimPresentCotes and Swinhoe, 1887
-West BengalPresentRothschild and Jordan, 1903
IranRestricted distributionSutton, 1963; Barou, 1967; Ebert, 1976
JapanPresentRothschild and Jordan, 1903
-HokkaidoPresentInoue, 1961
-HonshuPresentRothschild and Jordan, 1903; Nakatomi, 1987
-KyushuPresentNakatomi, 1987
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentNakatomi, 1987
-ShikokuPresentNakatomi, 1987
KazakhstanPresentStaudinger and Rebel, 1901
Korea, DPRPresent
Korea, Republic ofPresentKim et al., 1982
MongoliaPresentDerzhavets, 1977
NepalPresentHaruta and, 1992
TaiwanAbsent, invalid recordYang, 1987; Yang, Lin; Yang, 1978; Wang, 1993; Pittaway and Kitching, 2005
TurkeyPresentde Freina, 1979

North America

CanadaRestricted distributionIntroduced Not invasive Troubridge and Lafontaine, 2003; Pittaway, 2006
-British ColumbiaRestricted distributionIntroduced Not invasive Troubridge and Lafontaine, 2003; Pittaway, 2006


AustriaPresentPittaway, 1993
BelarusPresentPittaway, 1993
BelgiumPresentHerbulot, 1971
BulgariaPresentPittaway, 1993
Czech RepublicPresentPittaway, 1993
DenmarkPresentHoffmeyer, 1960
EstoniaPresentPetersen, 1924
FinlandPresentNordström et al., 1961
Former USSRPresentKuznetsov, 1916; Derzhavets, 1984
FrancePresentHerbulot, 1971
-CorsicaPresentPittaway, 1993
GermanyPresentPittaway, 1993
IrelandPresentBarrett, 1895
ItalyPresentSenna, 1912
-SardiniaPresentPittaway, 1993
-SicilyPresentMariani, 1939
LatviaPresentPittaway, 1993
LithuaniaPresentKazlauskas, 1984
NetherlandsPresentMeerman, 1987
NorwayPresentNordström et al., 1961
PolandPresentPittaway, 1993
PortugalPresentPittaway, 1993
RomaniaPresentPopescu-Gori, 1964
Russian FederationPresentPittaway, 1993
-Russian Far EastPresentKuznetsov, 1906; Derzhavets, 1984
-SiberiaPresentEversmann, 1844; Zolotarenko et al., 1978
SpainPresentRothschild and Jordan, 1903
SwedenPresentNordström et al., 1961
SwitzerlandPresentVorbrodt and Müller-Rutz, 1911
UKPresentNewman, 1965
UkrainePresentEfetov and Budashkin, 1990
Yugoslavia (former)PresentPittaway, 1993

Habitat List

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Growth Stages

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List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Fruit / external feeding
Inflorescence / external feeding
Leaves / external feeding

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Amblyjoppa fuscipennis Parasite Larvae
Amblyjoppa proteus Parasite Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis
Blepharipa pratensis Parasite Larvae
Compsilura concinnata Parasite Larvae
Drino lota Parasite Larvae
Drino vicina Parasite Larvae
Enicospilus undulatus Parasite Larvae
Exorista grandis Parasite Larvae
Exorista larvarum Parasite Larvae
Huebneria affinis Parasite Larvae
Lypha dubia Parasite Larvae
Masicera sphingivora Parasite Larvae
Pales pavida Parasite Larvae
Pimpla illecebrator Parasite Larvae
Protichneumon pisorius Parasite Larvae
Pyramidophorus flavoguttatus Parasite Larvae
Thelaira nigripes Parasite Larvae
Winthemia cruentata Parasite Larvae
Winthemia quadripustulata Parasite Larvae

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessionsIntentionally transported Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Fruits (inc. pods)
Growing medium accompanying plants
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
True seeds (inc. grain)


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Alphéraky S, 1882. Lépidoptères du district de Kouldjà et des montagnes environnantes, II. Heterocera. Horae Societatis Entomologicae Rossicae, 17:15-103.

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Brock JP, 1990. Pupal protrusion in some bombycoid moths (Lepidoptera). Entomologist's Gazette, 41(3):91-97

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Cotes EC, Swinhoe C, 1887. A Catalogue of the Moths of India, Part 1. Sphinges. Calcutta, India: Trustees of the Indian Museum.

D'Abrera B, 1986. Sphingidae Mundi: Hawk Moths of the World. Faringdon, UK: E. W. Classey Ltd., 226 pp. [published 1987]

Dekhtyarev NS, 1929. Pests of vines in the Ukraine. Vestnik Vinodêliya Ukrainyi, 30(1):15-20.

Derzhavets YuA, 1977. Hawkmoths (Lepidoptera, Sphingidae) of Mongolia. Nasekom. Mongol., 5:642-648.

Derzhavets YuA, 1984. A review of the classification of sphinx moths (Lepidoptera, Sphingidae) with a list of species of the fauna of the USSR. Entomologicheskoe Obozrenie, 63(3):604-620

Dutfield J, 1748. A New and Complete Natural History of English Moths and Butterflies (6 pts). London, UK.

Ebert G, 1969. Afghan Bombycids and Sphingids. 3. Sphingidae (Lepidoptera). Results of the 2nd German Afghanistan Expedition (1966) by the Karlsruhe State Natural History Collections. Reichenbachia, 12:37-53.

Ebert G, 1976. Contributions to an understanding of the bombycids and sphingids of Iran. 1. Article: The species and forms of the genera Berutana and Deilephila (Lep. Sphingidae). Journal of the Entomological Society of Iran, 3:85-99.

Efetov KA, Budashkin YuI, 1990. Macrolepidoptera of the Crimea. Simferopol, Russia: Tauria, 110 pp.

Eversmann E, 1844. Lepidopteran Fauna of the Volga-Urals Region. Kasani, Russia: Typis Universitatis.

Feytaud J, 1917. Les Insectos de la Vigne. Le Sphinx (Sphinx elpenor, L.). Revue de Viticulture, 46(1175):15-18.

Fletcher TB, 1899. A preliminary list of the Lepidoptera of Wei-Hai-Wei. Entomologist, 32:197-200.

Freina JJ de, 1979. Contribution to the systematic knowledge of the bombycid and sphingid fauna of Asia Minor. Atalanta, Würzburg, 10:175-224.

Harris M, 1766. The Aurelian: or, natural history of English insects; namely moths and butterflies.... London, UK: Privately published.

Haruta T, ed, 1992. Moths of Nepal, Part 1. Tinea, 13(Suppl. 2).

Herbulot C, 1971. Atlas des Lépidoptères de France, Belgique, Suisse, Italie du Nord. II Hétérocères. Paris, France: Boubeé.

Hoffmeyer S, 1960. De Danske Spindere. 2nd edn. Aarhus, Denmark: Universitetsforlaget.

Inoue H, 1961. Check list of the Lepidoptera of Japan. Tokyo, Japan: Rikusuisha.

Kazlauskas R, 1984. Lietuvos drugiai. Vilnius, Lithuania.

Kim CW, Nam SH, Lee SM, 1982. Illustrated Flora and Fauna of Korea Vol. 26, Insecta 8. Seoul, Korea Republic: Ministry of Education.

Kitching IJ, Cadiou JM, 1999. Hawkmoths of the world: an annotated revisionary checklist (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae). Ithaca, USA: Cornell University Press, in press.

Kuznetsov NYa, 1916 (1972 English edn by Amerind Publishing Co, New Delhi). A review of the family Sphingidae of the Palearctic and Chinese-Himalayan Faunas. Horae Societatis Entomologicae Rossicae, 37:293-346.

Lin CS, 1987. Sphingid moths and their larval food plants in Taiwan. Journal of Taiwan Museum, 40(2):101-120

Linnaeus C, 1758. Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Editio decima, reformata. Holmiae: Laurentii Salvii Tom.

Mariani M, 1939. Fauna Lepidopterorum Siciliae. Memorie della Società Entomologica Italiana, 17:129-187.

Meerman JC, 1987. The hawkmoths of the Netherlands (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae). Wetenschappelijke Mededeling van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Natuurhistorische Vereniging, No. 180:60pp.

Mell R, 1935. Contributions to the fauna of China. XV. On the systematics and ecology of the sphingids and saturniids of Chekiang (Coll. Höne). Mitteilungen der Zoologischen Museum Berlin, 20:337-365.

Nakatomi K, 1987. Sphingidae. In: Sugi S, ed. Larvae of Larger Moths in Japan. Tokyo, Japan.

Newman LH, 1965. Hawk-moths of Great Britain and Europe. London, UK: Cassell.

Nordström F, Opheim M, Sotavalta O, 1961. De Fennoskandiska SvSrmarnas och Spinnarnas Utbredning (Sphinges, Bombycimorpha, etc.). Acta Universitatis Lund. (NF) Avd. 2, 57(4):1-92.

Petersen W, 1924. Lepidopteran Fauna of Estonia (Eesti), Part I. 2nd edn. Tallinn-Reval, Estonia.

Pittaway AR, 1993. The hawkmoths of the western Palaearctic. Colchester, UK: Harley Books, 240 pp.

Pittaway AR, 1995. Sphingidae of the western Palaearctic: their ecology and biogeography. PhD Thesis. London, UK: Imperial College.

Pittaway AR, 2006. Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic.

Pittaway AR, Kitching IJ, 2005. Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic.

Popescu-Gorj A, 1964. Catalogue of the Lepidoptera collection of "Prof. A. Ostrogovich" in the Natural History Museum "Grigore Antipa" Bucarest. Bucarest, Romania: Musée d'Histoire Naturelle "Gr. Antipa".

Rothschild LW, Jordan K, 1903. A revision of the lepidopterous family Sphingidae. Novitates Zoologicae, 9 (Suppl.):1-972.

Rungs CE, 1981. Catalogue raisonné des Lépidoptères du Maroc Vol. 2. Rabat, Morocco. [Reprinted from Trav. Inst. scient. chérif., Série Zool., 40:223-583.]

Senna A, 1912. Le Farfalle. Milan, Italy: Ulrico Hoepli.

Sheng LR, Xue XH, 1993. Preliminary study on the bionomics and control of Pergesa elpenor. Plant Protection, 19(5):9-10.

South R, 1961. The Moths of the British Isles Vol. 1. 4th edn. London, UK: Frederick Warne & Co Ltd.

Staudinger O, Rebel H, 1901. Catalogue of Lepidoptera of the Palaearctic faunal region, 1. Part: Family Papilionidae-Hepialidae. Berlin, Germany.

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Theunert R, 1990. On the ecology of the large elephant hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor) (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae). Thesis. Braunschweig, Germany: Technischen UniversitSt Braunschweig.

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Distribution Maps

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