Wordless Wednesday – A summer visitor: Hummingbird Hawk Moth


The hummingbird hawk moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) is a summer visitor to the UK. They arrive from southern Europe in June and there is some evidence for a return migration in September. Although they do breed here, they can’t yet survive UK winters.


The moth has a wingspan of ~50-60mm. It has a brown, white-spotted abdomen, brown forewings and orange hindwings. It also has a noticeable black and white ‘tail’, which makes it appear even more bird-like.


Their fast-moving wings emit an audible hum (apparently) and beat around 70-80 times a second!


Its inch-long proboscis is well adapted to sip nectar from flowers with long corollas, such as: red valerian, lavender, honeysuckle and buddleia.


Hummingbird hawk moth sightings are thought to be good luck: There is a story that a swarm of the moths was seen flying across the English Channel on D-Day, the day of the Normandy landings in the Second World War.


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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12 Responses to Wordless Wednesday – A summer visitor: Hummingbird Hawk Moth

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    Marvelous photos, Allison, not an easy subject!

  2. shoreacres says:

    I’ve only seen a hummingbird hawk moth three or four times. This is the version I’ve seen. They are quite something. And what an interesting historical note!

  3. Cathy says:

    Your photos are fabulous! I have finally got some visiting this garden after planting valerian for precisely that reason. They love the Salvia sclarea too! 😃

    • Thanks Cathy. This week I’ve also been spotting the moths on other plants (as the valerian goes over), like: echium, phlox and lychnis. I definitely think that there are more of them here this year. PS I finally have lots of bee on my eryngiums 😌. I must be a bit behind you in terms of its flowering stage.

  4. How wonderful! I’ve only seen one in our garden so I’m very envious.

  5. Great photos. I love the sound too!

  6. Cathy says:

    These are amazing photos, Allison and a great sighting!

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