In the absence of an expert or otherwise definitive answer to the question posed by Adam Parker, regarding his cat’s predilection for feasting on large moths, I offer the following.
From his description I believe the species to be the Elephant Hawk moth which is probably no more or less endangered than all our other butterflies and moths.
The name derives from its caterpillar which is brown in colour and has two distinctive eye markings immediately behind its head along with a small pointed tail similar in shape to that of an elephant. The caterpillar feeds on Willow Herb and when fully grown is approximately the thickness and length of a man’s forefinger. Willow Herb is the tall pink flowering weed usually found growing on neglected and derelict sites along with nettles which are the preferred food plant for the caterpillars of many butterflies.
Another plant that readily colonises waste land is the Buddleia, more commonly known as the Butterfly Bush, to which bees, butterflies and night flying moths are attracted to feed on the nectar. An abundance of insect life attracts their predators, such as bats, insect eating birds and in this case insect eating tom cats.
The former Perseverance Mill site now naturally contains all these elements and demonstrates how little effort is needed to benefit the environment. Unfortunately there is also much that is not conducive to the development of a nature reserve on this site but the idea must surely have merit.
Caernarvon Avenue, Burnley