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Hummingbird hawk moth

Insect

Macroglossum stellatarum

The hummingbird hawk moth is hairy with a dark, white-spotted abdomen, mousey-grey forewings and golden-orange hindwings. 

It is so named as it can be easily mistaken for a hummingbird as it hovers, probing flowers for nectar with its long proboscis. In fact, it is smaller than any hummingbird.

The wings beat so fast they make an audible hum. They fly during the day and can be seen throughout lowland Britain in the summer. Hummingbird hawk moths cannot survive the British winter, so migrate to and from southern Europe in autumn and spring. 

The caterpillars, about 50 mm long, are colourful. They have a green or reddish-brown body with white dots, white, dark and yellow horizontal stripes and a blue, yellow-tipped horn.

What does it eat?

Adults drink nectar from flowers, such as honeysuckle and Buddleia. Caterpillars eat bedstraws.

When will I see it?

During the summer.

Where will I see it?

Hovering and probing nectar-rich flowers. Also in parks.

Vital statistics

Length: About 50 mm across forewings

Calendar

Not seen in JanuaryNot seen in FebruaryNot seen in MarchNot seen in AprilNot seen in MaySeen in JuneSeen in JulySeen in AugustSeen in SeptemberNot seen in OctoberNot seen in NovemberNot seen in December

Key to calendar