Sunday, 11 October 2009

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Several people in the last month or so have asked me to identify what they describe as a hummingbird they've seen hovering in front of flowers while its long tongue probes for nectar.

These delightful little creatures are Hummingbird Hawkmoths / Macroglossum stellatarum / Moro sphinx, which arrive in the spring and stay well into the autumn. Although they probably breed in the area every summer, so the second generation will be 'local', I suspect they don't survive the winter this far north, and every year, the population is replaced by migrants from the south of France. The species is very strongly migratory, reaching Scandinavia in a good summer.

This year, for the first time, I have seen them at rest, both times in our potager, and even managed to get a photograph.



ladybird said...

Susan, we saw a similar insect last September in the Lorraine. It was hovering over a 'arbre à papillons' (butterfly tree). My friend C. said that in French it is called a 'sphinx'. Could that be the same insect? Martine

P.S. I looked really pretty!

Susan said...

Martine: Yes, hawkmoths are sphinx in French. This one is le moro sphinx.

ladybird said...

Oups, I just noticed a gigantic typo in my comment!! Of course I meant 'IT looked really pretty' ;^) Martine

chm said...

Hi Susan,
How strange! If you look carefully next to the bottom of the left wing of the Moro sphinx you can see a "tête de mort" almost like the one on the back of the Sphinx tête de mort (Acherontia atropos L.) Such a coincidence!

What kind of Sedum is on the right of the photo? Pulcherrima?

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