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Wednesday, 29 August 2012


We are used to seeing the Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum) here during the summer. It's a regular visitor which I think comes up to us from the south as it's known as a migratory moth; some years it even crosses the channel to England.

However quite recently I was surprised to see what I thought was a different kind of Hummingbird Hawkmoth - it looked the same just a different colour! I ran inside to grab the camera and took some pictures. After looking up hawkmoths on the internet I found that it was in fact the Broad Bordered Bee Hawkmoth (Hemaris fuciformis) - not some exotic species but in fact one that actually resides and breeds even in England!

As I hadn't ever seen one before (in fact I'd never even heard of them as they don't appear in my book of common Northern European moths) it's exotic as far as I'm concerned and it's a real beauty. It flits about from flower to flower just like the aforementioned HB Hawkmoth but just that little bit slower - still needs patience and a lot of following it about to capture it on camera but I was quite pleased with the results!

One even came back again a few days later and I hope to see more of it in future! The caterpillars feed on honeysuckle and various Galium plants, both of which I have here (although the only Galium I'm aware of in my garden are cleavers/goosegrass, which is an early spring horribly invasive, swamping everything in its path, weed). They are welcome to eat as much of it as they please!

A few days later I saw one again, but this one looks a bit tattier and has lost some of the hairs on its back. I've no idea if it is the same one getting older or another one.

I've seen the Hummingbird Hawkmoth around many times too but more so during June/July than during August. I managed a few shots of it but have already posted some photos that I look last year when I spent many more hours stalking the poor creatures to try to get a decent photo! I posted them on my article about Verbena bonariensis - the flower that is in all these photos. As well as this flower they are also partial to single flowered Ivy Leafed Geraniums (Pelargoniums). I've never seen them feed on any other flower.

A few nights ago one of the large kinds of hawkmoth flew into our cellar and I managed just one photo whilst it momentarily rested on the wall - the rest of the time it was buzzing around the light. We did get it to go outside eventually.

This is a Pine Hawkmoth which seems to be called either Hyloicus pinastri or Sphinx pinastri and the caterpillars feed on various pine trees and Norway Spruce, which I have plenty of.

Two years ago we saw another hawkmoth which my OH managed to get a shot of and I've identified this one as the Convolvulus Hawkmoth (Agrius convolvuli). The caterpillars feed on bindweed so I'd like to see more of these lovely moths about to lay as many eggs as possible on the bindweed!

Now I just want to see an Elephant Hawkmoth. In fact it's the caterpillar that I want to see more than the moth itself. I've only been waiting years! Oh, and a Death's Head Hawkmoth would be cool.... remember Silence of the Lambs?!!

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