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Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum)

Hummingbird Hawk-moth
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Hummingbird hawk-moth described first by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1758, in his book, the 10th edition of Systema Naturae is a part of the Sphingidae family. It has a wide range, spreading across Asia, North Africa, and southern Europe, but rarely seen.

Scientific Classification


  • Family: Sphingidae
  • Genus: Macroglossum
  • Scientific Name: Macroglossum stellatarum

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

Hummingbird Hawk-moth Caterpillar
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Hummingbird Hawk Moth Larvae
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They are yellow after emerging from the eggs and eventually turn to green during their second instar. The larva also has grey stripes with a cream border on the sides. The rare end of their forewings has purplish-red horns that turn blue in their final instar.

Pupa

Hummingbird Hawk-moth Cocoon
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Hummingbird Hawk-moth Chrysalis
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About 2 inches long, the pupa is pale brown, having a prominent appendage on its head. It even has two spines occupying the end of its cremaster. It remains enclosed within silken cocoons, scattered near the host plants or curled leaves.

Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Color and Appearance: When opened, the forewings, narrow and shorter than the hindwings, are brown, marked with wavy black lines. The hindwings appear orange with black markings on the edges. When closed, the hind and forewings are brown. The lines and markings are not too prominently visible then.

They have a stout, bullet-like body and a broad abdomen. The male species mostly have a fan-like hairy tail, just like the ones seen in hummingbirds, which remains absent in females.

Macroglossum stellatarum
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Hummingbird Hawk Moth Image
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Average wingspan: 4 – 4.5 cm

Flight pattern: Steady and consistent (similar to hummingbirds)

Season: June – September

Eggs

Hummingbird Hawk-moth Egg
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The eggs are spherical and pale green, with a diameter of approximately 1 mm. They are mostly laid on the host plant Galium and bear a close resemblance to its flower buds.

Quick Facts

Other namesHawk moth
DistributionSouthern Europe (mainly England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales), parts of Asia, and northern Africa
HabitatMeadows, bushes, parks, gardens, woodland edges, and all those regions where their host plants grow
PredatorsOwls, other birds, bats, rodents, spiders
Lifespan of adultsAbout 7 months
Host plantsGalium, Rubia, Stellaria, Epilobium, Centranthus
Adult dietNectar-rich flowering plants like Centranthus, Viola, Nicotiana, Jasminum, Phlox, Syringa, Verbena, Primula

Did You Know

  • They have a sharp vision, especially when it comes to identifying colors.
  • The hummingbird hawk-moth has been considered a sign of good luck in the past in different cultures.
  • Its appearance, the tendency to make a humming noise when flying, and the trait of feeding on flowers with a tube-shaped petal make it closely similar to a hummingbird.
  • Though named the hummingbird hawk moth, it is not to be confused with those of the Hemaris genus, also known by the same name in the United States.
Hummingbird Hawk Moth Photo
warwickshire-butterflies.org.uk
Hummingbird Hawk-moth Life Cycle
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Hummingbird Hawk Moth Picture
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