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Hummingbird hawk-moth

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Hummingbird hawk-moth
Scientific Classification
Binomial name

Macroglossum stellatarum

Hummingbird hawk-moth
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The hummingbird hawk-moth is a species of moths best known for its physical and behavioral resemblance of a hummingbird. Unlike most moths, it flies during the daytime hours, frequently at dawn and the evening. Much like a hummingbird, it can be found hovering over a flower helping itself to its pollen. Some other commons names that it may be recognized by are the "hummingbird moth" and the "bee moth." It can be seen in many different parts of the world, but mostly in warmer regions.[1]


A hummingbird hawk-moth getting getting from a flower
When the Hummingbird-Hawk moth is in it larval stage it is green or a reddish-brown color. On top of its unique color it has white spots with white and yellow stripes. The spiracles of the larvae are black. They also have blue spiracles with yellow tips. These larvae grow to be about 60mm. Both males and females have a similar appearance. When the larvae turns into an adult it looks a lot like a hummingbird and is frequently confused as being one. These moths have an abdomen that is brown with white spots. Their front wings are brown and their back ones are orange. The wings of a Hummingbird-hawk moth have a wingspan of 40 to 50mm. When the wings are beating they go so fast that they make an hum, like a hummingbird.[2]


The Hummingbird hawk-moth reproduces in the UK by internal fertilization. The way the moths detect their mates is by smell and sight, but mostly by scent. During courtship, they have been known to do aerial chases. While they are in the process of courtship the male and female fly through the air while spiraling upward or flying low to the ground.[3] Hummingbird hawk-moths undergo complete metamorphosis. After the male fertilizes the eggs they are then laid on a plant called Galium. The eggs have a glossy light green look to them that looks exactly like the bud of the Galium plant. One female can lay up to two hundred eggs which are each laid on a separated plant. The eggs hatch into a larvae within six to eight days. When the larvae are first hatched they are a clear yellow. Later they become green with two grey stripes outlined in an off-white. At first they have a horn that is a red color that then turns blue with an orange tip during their last larval stage. They live on the stem of that plant and move to the top part of the plant to get their food. This larval stage can last up to twenty days. The third stage of the moth’s life is the pupil stage. During this time of its life it is a light brown color with an extended proboscis . At the end of its cremaster it has two sharp spines. The cremaster is useful for the pupae (caterpillar) to get into its cocoon. The cocoon is made of silk and can be found among the plant debris or around the ground near the plant. When it is done transforming it comes out its cocoon. Now the caterpillar has changed into a moth, which is its last stage of life (adult).[4]


hummingbird hawk-moth
These moths are most seen around rocky, dry, grasslands in coastal areas. In these dry rocky areas there are urban and suburban gardens where these arthropods feed on nectar in tubular nectar-rich flowers. The flowers that they feed of consist of Buddleias, petunias, red valerian,Centranthus ruber, and many others. The hummingbird-hawk moth is known as a day flyer when it most often seen in gardens were they are feeding of the flower mentioned earlier. When they fly they hover, just like a hummingbird.[5]

These moths live in regions with warm weather, such as the Palearctic and Nearctic. These regions are located in the Islands of Kanars and North Africa up into Europe and East Asia. They are also located in Japan, the Kurile Islands, Kamtschatka, and North America. When Hummingbird hawk-moth migrates they travel long distances. They can be seen in June but most often are seen during August until fall.[6]

Where you can see it

These fascinating moths can be found in many different parts of the world. It can be seen mostly in parts of Europe and Asia. Even though many can be seen in Eurasia, it is not a resident there. The hummingbird hawk-moth lives only in warm climates such as Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, North Africa, and other places on the east side. It is a big migratory, which means it can be seen in many different places. It can be pretty much everywhere in the hemisphere during the summer. If it is caught in the northern hemisphere, such as the Alps, Europe or North of Caucus, Russia, during the winter it rarely survives. They also can be found in the United States, where it is called a "hummingbird moth." In Europe it is known as a "bee moth", which causes some confusion.[7]

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See Also