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Pictorial life of a Hummingbird Hawkmoth


By tanny


In late July two thousand and six, my wife and I were strolling back from the bird hide at the RSPB Inner Marsh Farm, Burton. When we spotted that wonderful creature, the Hummingbird Hawkmoth, dashing around the Bedstraw flowers alongside a stone wall. My wife had the camera and took the only picture, although it’s a poor picture one can make out the moth was actualy laying an egg. When I realised what it was doing I imediately searched the place and discovered a lovely shiny green egg. I carefully snipped off the flower stem with the egg attached and chased after the moth to collect four other eggs that I saw it lay. Although we searched all the plants around we couldn’t find any more eggs. I carefully carried these treasures back to the car and we drove home. In the seconed picture you can see the emerald green egg at the top of the stem.

Within five days the eggs hatched and after the cattapillars had eaten their egg shells they started eating the fine hairs on the plant beneath the flowers. As they grew they progressed onto eating the flower itself and from there they consumed the flowers, leaves and stems of the plant.

The strange thing is although they all hatched almost together they grew up in different sizes

!http:/Although these caterpillars lived exclusively on the Bedstraw plant, they would have also have consumed a plant called, “Madder” and possibly the Verbena family.

The largest catterpillar started changing colour and began to wander off in serch of a nesting site. The best place I thought was to house them in the old Goldfish tank where they could bury themselves in the potting mix and peat that I had filled to about three inches at the bottom.

After seeking advice on the net I was advised to place them in seperate jars so that they didn’t damage each other when digging in the soil. This turned out to be a great idea because I was able to photograph them constructing their cocoon and change into a christlis

Over the weeks the pupae started changing color and the darker they got the nearer they become to emerging

On emergence the moth crawls up to a place where it can hang on and where it can allow the wings to expand.

To identify each moth I dabbed a colored spot on the thorax

After the four moths emerged I took many pictures before they were released into the garden

The moths fed on the verbena flowers and other flowers in the greenhouse.

More blog posts by tanny


Next post: Buff-tip Moth (Phalera bucephala)



How fascinating Tanny ! Well done,all surviving.Love the last photo,beautiful colours :))

3 Dec, 2009


Wow! Fantastic Blog Tanny thanx 4 showing all the Fab Pics of the Catterpillair/Moth :)

3 Dec, 2009


Crumbs....was just about to tell you off for "interfering".....but didn't need to....what a wonderful process....thank you so much for doing this to share with us.....wonderful pics:))))

3 Dec, 2009


What a wonderful blog,it was so interesting,to be able to follow every stage of life.Nature never fails to amaze me.....:o)))

3 Dec, 2009


Lovely blog,and thank you for sharing with us all.

3 Dec, 2009


Stunning..... I was eagerly scrolling down to the next photo, and then the next.... to see the different stages... well done on rearing these creatures and on your excellent photography ! :o)

3 Dec, 2009


Tanny, the blog is just amazing! Beautiful pics! Thanks for sharing with us!

3 Dec, 2009


A wonderful story. Thank you

3 Dec, 2009


Definitely thank you, Tanny - that was fascinating! :-)))

3 Dec, 2009


That was a most amazing piece of research and one of the most interesting blogs I have read here. Many thanks for posting it, Tanny.
We occasionally get Humming Bird Hawk Moths here in the north of Scotland but they don't sit still long enough to photograph!

3 Dec, 2009


what a fantastic blog. such good photos too. :o)

3 Dec, 2009


What an amazing blog, this is the first time I have seen the moth, we get the caterpillars most years in the garden, such a sight. Marvellous photos.

3 Dec, 2009


Wow - I get these pupa in the garden and wondered what they were from - fascinating thank you

4 Dec, 2009


What a great blog. I saw a humming bird moth in our garden a few years ago - maybe around 2006. We were amazed, it really did look like a tiny humming bird.

12 Dec, 2009


Fantastic blog. I too enjoyed seeing the different stages. Thank you for this opportunity to follow nature at its best.

8 Jan, 2010

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