Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Macroglossum stellatarum

I feel quite privileged to have been able to take these photographs of this splendid hawkmoth. I took them quite a few years ago with my first digital camera purchase, and haven’t been able to capture one in flight and feeding since back then.

A spectacular brightly coloured diurnal moth which can be seen sipping nectar in full sunlight with its extraordinary long proboscis. It looks and sounds like a hummingbird as it feeds from tubular flowers such as Red Valerian, Buddleia, Lilac, and the like. It has a bright orange flashy underwing, and distinct chequer-like markings on the rear of its squat abdomen. It has a wingspan of up to 58mm.

The caterpillar feeds on Lady’s and Hedge Bedstraw, and Wild Madder.

It flies April to December. Most immigrants arrive in August and September. Occurs anywhere, from coastal regions, woodland rides, parks and gardens.

This is a regular migrant to Britain from southern Europe and north Africa which can breed here in hot summers in the south of England.

Photographs taken August 2005, in flight, rear garden, and August 2007, resting on foliage, local wood, Staffordshire.