Hummingbird Hawkmoth – Macroglossum stellatarum
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.
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.