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Hummingbird Hawkmoth – Macroglossum stellatarum

September 17, 2012


Upon my initial encounter with this peculiar creature I though, how odd, a small nocturnal hummingbird. However, upon further inspection and a bit of background research I have deduced that this is the relatively common Macroglossum stellatarum hailing from the Sphingidae family, otherwise known as the Hummingbird Hawkmoth. (Please correct me if my ID is wrong, I’m no lepidopterist, nor an entomologist.

Although this species is a resident of southern Europe, North Africa, and points east, it has been known to estivate in more northerly latitudes, north of the Alps in Europe and north of the Caucuses in Russia.

Note the long proboscis searching for nectar in this hardy ginger flower…

M. stellatarum are known to be particularly fond of nectar rich flowers, examples of which include the temperate ginger depicted in the photographs above and below and Centranthus, Jasminum, Buddleia, Nicotiana, Primula, Viola, Syringa, Verbena, Echium, Phlox, and Stachys… among others. Interestingly, the species are reported to trap-line, i.e. return to the same flower beds at about the same time each day.

In the southern parts of its range, the Hummingbird Hawk-moth is highly active even when temperatures are high, and thoracic temperatures above 45 °C (113 °F) have been measured. This is among the highest recorded for hawk-moths, and near the limit for insect muscle activity.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2012 10:08:56 pm

    That is gorgeous! Those pictures are awesome!

  2. September 18, 2012 10:08:13 pm

    Fascinating, and you may well be right. I’m no lepi-whatsit either, but I thought a different (but similar) beastie i shot a couple of weeks back was the humming bird thingy. take a look at the 5th photo here – . I wonder who they both are?

    • September 18, 2012 10:08:35 pm

      Huh, yes, the moth in your photo is strikingly similar in its hummingbird-ness. Could be the same critter as the one I photographed. I see you photographed that one in the day time… Maybe their coloring changes depending on what latitude they’re residing. Where were you’re photos taken. Looks like a fantastic place, but i didn’t see any location reference.

    • September 18, 2012 10:08:44 pm

      Is it Slovenia? I saw Slovenia mentioned in an earlier post as i perused your site. I visited a few years ago, and drove through he country once previously… one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to in Europe.

  3. September 19, 2012 10:08:16 am

    We have hardy ginger on Serendipity Farm…perhaps the combination of climate change and the proximity of hardy ginger may allow us to see this little fellow migrating on down to Tasmania? 😉

  4. September 19, 2012 10:08:47 am

    We have these in Mexico too. They are crazy about 4 oclocks!

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