Posted by: Ross Gardner | August 30, 2020

Hmmmmm………

A rather fabulous insect has pitched up on the grassy slopes of Hadleigh Country Park, my much-loved local wildlife hotspot.

The season is a-changing, perhaps more keenly to the naturalist’s eye, who might notice the subtler changes in the countryside, taking place even as we continue to enjoy some summery weather.  The grasslands of The Downs (as I affectionately refer to them) have past their colourful peak.  The white of Wild Carrot is fading on the slopes, as is the yellow gleam of Bird’s-foot Trefoil.  The colour shifts now to the Hawthorn bushes loaded with scarlet berries and the fruit laden Bramble and Blackthorn with their respective shades of dark purple fruits.  Purple also is another flower, the brighter tones of Lesser Knapweed that blooms here so abundantly during late summer.  It’s own haze of colour, like the others, is receding, but still sufficiently present to lure an intriguing visitor.

The Hummingbird Hawk-moth is an immigrant to the UK, arriving in the spring from Southern Europe but unable to survive our winters.  As such they occur here in varying numbers.  Some years they can be seen almost anywhere, while in others their appearance can prove something of a rarity.  Today is the only time so far in 2020 that I have caught sight of the unmistakable orange blur of the hindwings, drifting and then darting in search of nectar.  Spring arrivals regularly breed in the UK, laying their eggs on bedstraw species, and it is perhaps likely that some of these offspring, like other migratory moths (e.g. Silver Y), make a return flight in the autumn.

This one was evidently very fond of knapweed, hovering to a standstill and extending its long proboscis, searchingly into the flower.  It is not diffucult to appreciate how they have earned their name.

Macroglossum stellatarum

Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum).

Macroglossum stellatarum

Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) advancing on a knapweed (Centaurea nigra) flower.


Responses

  1. I love this post about hummingbird moths, amazing photographs! I posted about them too!

    • Thanks Philip. Glad you enjoyed it. Just had a look on your blog – some great photos on there.


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