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Hummingbird hawk-moth

Scientific name: Macroglossum stellatarum

image of a Hummingbird Hawk-moth, Macroglossum stellatarum
A Hummingbird Hawk-moth using its proboscis to feed from a Red Valerian flower.

The Hummingbird Hawk-moth is so named due its resemblance to the tiny tropical bird's rapid hovering and flitting motion as it dips in and out of flowers to feed on the nectar; their wings beat at about 85 per second. Their main areas of habitation are Mediterranean countries, Central Asia and Japan, but during the summer months many migrate to the British Isles where they can be found as far north as the Orkney and Shetland Islands. In Northern Ireland they are seen mainly in the eastern counties, and their favourite sources of food are the nectar-rich, tubular flowers of Buddleja davidii and Centranthus ruber. The most likely months to see them are from May to September, but they have been seen as early as March. Some may hibernate over the winter, but generally they migrate to southern Europe.

hummingbird Hawk-moth in flight

The caterpillars are mainly green or reddish brown with white dots and a yellow and white stripe along their length. The rear horn, typical of hawk-moth larvae, has a yellow tip. They can grow to 60mm long as they feed on species of the genera Galium, commonly called the bedstraws, the best known of which is Cleavers.