Humming-bird Hawk-moth

©Derek Moore

Humming-bird hawk-moth

Scientific name: Macroglossum stellatarum
The humming-bird hawk-moth migrates to the UK from Southern Europe each year. It can be seen hovering over flowers, feeding with its long proboscis; its wings move so quickly that it 'hums'.

Species information

Statistics

Wingspan: 5.0-5.8cm

Conservation status

Migrant.

When to see

April to December

About

The humming-bird hawk-moth is a small, day-flying hawk-moth. It is a summer visitor to the UK, migrating from Southern Europe in variable numbers each year. In some years, it can be common and may be seen in gardens, hovering like a hummingbird as it feeds on the nectar of honeysuckle, red valerian and other flowers. It can also be found along woodland edges, and on heathland and scrub. The caterpillars feed on various species of bedstraw, so the female adult moths lay their eggs on the buds or flowers of these plants.

How to identify

The humming-bird hawk-moth has greyish-brown forewings, bright orange hindwings, and a greyish body with a broad, black-and-white 'tail'. Its hovering flight is a distinguishing feature; it flutters its wings so quickly that it can appear orange and makes an audible hum.

Distribution

A widespread migrant, most frequent in the south and near the coast.

Did you know?

The humming-bird hawk-moth is the only 'hummingbird' in Europe: real hummingbirds are found in the Americas.

How people can help

To attract butterflies and moths into your garden, plant nectar-rich borders for them to feed along and climbing Ivy and shrubs for overwintering insects. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started, at www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk. To buy bird and animal food, feeders and homes, visit the Vine House Farm website - an award-winning wildlife-friendly farm which donates up to 5% of the value of every sales order.