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Moth Humming-Bird Hawk-Moth

Humming-Bird Hawk-Moth - Photo  Copyright 2003 Dilys Boot
Photo: Dilys Boot

UK Safari Tip:
You can discover more about Hawk-Moths and their caterpillars with this fold out chart - click here


Latin name: Macroglossum stellatarum

Size: Wingspan approximately 50 to 60mm.

Distribution: Found throughout the U.K. (even on the Shetland Islands) but the majority are seen in southern England.

Months seen: Can be seen as early as March. It's possible some hibernate in Britain during the winter, but the majority fly in from Mediterranean countries between May and September.

Food: Nectar. The green caterpillars (seen between June and September) feed on bedstraws.

Habitat: Gardens and parks.

Special features: This day flying moth can often be seen in gardens feeding on geraniums, honeysuckle, petunias or verbena. It is equipped with a long tongue which it uses to drink nectar.

Like a humming bird they hover in front of flowers as they feed. Their wings flap so fast they appear to be on fire. In fact this is the orange coloured hind-wings, showing up as a blur. The moth also makes a throbbing noise as it hovers.

In 1946, following WWII, there were large numbers of them seen in Britain. This was put down to all the bedstraw which had been left untrimmed during the war years, providing the caterpillars with an abundance of food. Large numbers were also seen in the summer of 2003 following the hot dry conditions throughout Europe.

NOTE: Although they can be found throughout most of the Americas, real humming birds have never been found in the wild in Britain.

Track Down More Info

More Photos of the Humming-Bird Hawk-Moths
UK Safari Moth Section

  2006 G. Bradley. All Rights Reserved