Saturday, 19 November 2016

The hummingbird hawk-moth

When, on a summer's afternoon, we sit and relax in the garden near where a lavender plant is growing, we often see a lot of activity around the lavender flowers.

Hummingbird hawk-moth in action
Bumble bees are busy doing whatever bumble bees are doing, but a few weeks before the bumble bees become very active we notice some insects we had never seen before we moved to France.

Hummingbird hawk-moth
The insects I am talking about look like moths, and have brown wings with an orange edge. The animals hang stationary in mid-air in front of a lavender flower, and it seems like they are sucking some fluid from the plant. We are not equipped with any knowledge on the subject, and since we had observed that the thing could hang still by moving its wings with tremendous speed, we happily called it a humming-bird moth.

Hummingbird hawk-moth in action
Wikipedia, as in many cases, put us on the right track. The animal is called hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum), a small moth with a wing span of 2 inches and a very long tongue with which it sucks nectar from plants. Only after I started to experiment a bit with the shutter speed of my camera I managed to take some interesting pictures of the animal.

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