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Eyed Hawk Moth (Smerinthus ocellatus)

The eyed hawk moth is a member of the hawk moth family. It is recognizable from the striking eyespots on its hindwings, which it uses to startle predators and will sometimes even display them while resting as a means of distraction.

Eyed Hawk Moth


Scientific Classification

  • Family: Sphingidae
  • Genus: Smerinthus
  • Scientific Name: Smerinthus ocellatus

Description and Identification


It is pale blue or yellowish-green, with small white-tipped tubercles and a gray-blue horn on its posterior end. The sides are striped yellow or white, and its stigma is white with dark red circles. They are about 80mm long.

Eyed Hawk Moth Caterpillar



The pupa is glossy and reddish-brown. After fully maturing, the larva pupates below the soil.

Eyed Hawk Moth Pupa


Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present but not prominent.

Color and Appearance:

The thorax is light brown with dark brown hairs in the middle. 

Forewing: When the wings are open, they resemble the color of tree bark with a mixture of light and dark brown. When the wings are closed, the resemblance remains, allowing them near-perfect camouflage.

Hindwing: When the wings are opened, two blue “eyespots” or ocelli surrounded by black rims are visible. They are pink at the base, along with a yellow ochre color. The eyespots become hidden when the wings are closed. 

Average wingspan: 70–80 mm

Flight pattern: Consistent

Season: May to July

Smerinthus ocellatus



They are light green. The female moths lay 1-4 eggs at a time. 

Eyed Hawk Moth Eggs


Quick Facts

DistributionEngland, Ireland, and Wales
HabitatWoodlands, suburban gardens
Lifespan of Adults5-14 days
Host PlantsApple, sallow, and willow
Adult DietDoes not feed

Did You Know

  • Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus first described this species in the 10th edition of his book, Systema Naturae, in 1758.
  • While there are three known subspecies, only Smerinthus ocellatus ocellatus is considered a true subspecies. Smerinthus ocellatus atlanticus is sometimes considered a full species. Under such circumstances, Smerinthus atlanticus protai becomes its subspecies, not of  Smerinthus ocellatus.
Eyed Hawk Moth Image


Eyed Hawk Moth Picture


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