Saturday, 7 August 2010

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

On Tuesday, when we got home from Scotland, having verified that the house was not a smoking ruin and the cat dead, we dumped everything in the hall and made ourselves a cup of tea, which we drank sitting on the patio.

As we did so, a moth flew up to an agapanthus flower nearby, hovered in front of it and inserted its proboscis momentarily before flying rapidly away. I saw it for no more than a couple of seconds, but when I described it to Jenny, she was in no doubt it was a hummingbird hawk moth.

When I looked it up, I agreed.  The description in our butterflies and moths book matched what I'd seen so closely, there really can be no doubt.

According to the warden of Fowlmere Bird Reserve, to whom I mentioned it, they're often reported as hummingbirds, but you'd have to have never seen a hummingbird to make that mistake.  The moth is much smaller, even though not exactly tiny.  And the hovering while sipping nectar, the dark wings with orange underneath, daytime flight and the rapid, darting away, all support the identification.

At the warden's suggestion, I recorded the sighting on www.butterfly-conservation.org, as they're surveying these moths and painted lady butterflies, which are also migratory, though apparently HBHMs are sometimes surviving our winters these days..

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