This is a series of the metamorphosis of a Death's Head Hawk Moth that a took a long time ago, but I thought I would write a note about it here. It was discussed on the forum, Photography on the Net, and also on the SABC nature program 50/50.

I was very keen on macro photography, and my neighbour's daughter often brought me interesting specimens from her smallholding outside Pretoria. Her dogs had found this chrysalis and she was afraid that they would hurt it, so she brought it to me. In hindsight, I was very pleased with the photo opportunity that this presented to me.

All photos in this series were taken with a Canon 350D with a Sigma 105mm macro lens and a Canon 420EX Flash. The camera was on a macro bracket, with the flash mounted to the left of the camera. Shot settings: manual mode, manual focus, F/22 and 1/125s.

The chrysalis was brought in a large bottle, with a base size of more than 10cm, to give an idea of its size.


I took a few pictures, then put it in a pot plant outside. It immediately climbed out of the pot plant and up the wall of the house. The metamorphosis started occurring almost as soon as it stopped moving.


The wings grew really rapidly (note the fluid coming out of the wings).



The following picture should be in portrait mode, but I have left it in landscape for more detail.



Not too much happened for the next hour, and then the wings suddenly folded down.


In the previous picture, you can see the characteristic skull on the moth's thorax, from which it get's its name. The next picture shows the skull in more detail.


The last picture before I went to bed.


I did check on it later during the night. It was still there at midnight, but gone at 02:00.