The Elephant Hawk Moth Is the 'Ugly Duckling' of Moths

You can't tell what kind of extravagant beauty a creature will become when they're just a baby. Hans Christian Andersen's tale of "The Ugly Duckling" proves this is officially A Thing. The elephant hawk moth (Deilephila elpenor) might be the ugly duckling of our time — of all times.


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An adult elephant hawk moth is breathtakingly beautiful, shaped like a futuristic jet, its wings and body are patterned with downy gold and magenta scales. It's enough to make you swoon. The appearance of the babies, however, is where the elephant hawk moth gets its name. An elephant hawk moth caterpillar is usually dark colored (although sometimes they're bright green) and supposedly looks like an elephant's trunk, but anybody who has ever taken a small dog on a walk knows that it looks like chihuahua poop.