We only see one or two hummingbird hawkmoths a year at Wheatland Farm’s eco lodges, so it was nice to spot one close enough to photograph. Having said that, to understand why they’re so striking you really need to see them flying – they are easily mistaken for a tiny humming bird.
Hummingbird hawkmoths fly in from Europe each summer. Ours probably come up from southern France. Some breed here, and raise the next generation, seen in later summer, but apparently they don’t usually survive the winter – though some may pupate and overwinter in silken cocoons (sounds cosy, but probably isn’t in Devon).
They are mainly day flyers, and like sunlight, but they can also be active at dawn and dusk. They love nectar rich flowers as adults, (valerian, honeysuckle, jasmines, buddleia – though that’s not flowering here at Wheatland Farm yet). Apparently, hummingbird hawkmoths can remember individual flowers, so if you see one enjoying your garden it could be worth looking in the same place for a second view.
The larvae like to eat bedstraws (we have that at Wheatland Farm) but also wild madder (which doesn’t grow commonly in this part of Devon, although it’s found around the north and south Devon coasts). The caterpillar can get up to 6cm and is a colourful beast.
We probably saw 2 hummingbird hawkmoths in 2019, maybe one in 2018, and non to readily recall earlier than that. If we carry on getting warm summers, presumably we’ll get more of these summer visitors too.
Previously for #30DaysWild
#30DaysWild in 2019: Ian was at a rush management workshop run by Cyril Cole (he of barnowl fame) at Rose Ash Farm.
#30DaysWild in 2018: We were enjoying a walk around the wildlife pond at Wheatland Farm
#30DaysWild in 2017: We were making elderflower champagne with a lemon, sugar, and flowers from our Devon hedgerows.