The Lunar Hornet Clearwing Sesia bembeciformis, is a more common relative of the Hornet Clearwing Sesia apiformis, both species are in fact moths. They imitate hornets in appearance, flight and they even emit a buzzing sound when flying.
Hornet moths are a fantastic example of what is known as ‘Batesian mimicry’ where harmless species have evolved to imitate more harmful or distasteful species. The idea being that predators are likely to avoid the harmless moth based on a previous unpleasant experience with a hornet or other similar species.
The caterpillars are most often found in willow trunks and can remain in the larval stage for up to two years before emerging as a moth. This photo was taken in Manchester City Centre.