Our Beautiful World
macroglossum stellatarum   


On a tiny little greek island this little creature showed up every morning:

 

At first we thought it was a humming-bird, because it stood still in the air, putting its long
bill deep into the flower to get some nectar. Then we realised that we never learned
that there are humming-birds in Greece, so we just had to look a bit closer.

It was no bird at all, but some kind of an insect, but it couldn't be more alike, except for
the trunk - look closely at the upper left picture. On its tail it seemed like it had two
white eyes with a mask around, so you could get confused and think it was sitting
(flying) the other way around, just like a Volkswagen.....
Anyone knowing about this little one?

Yes, there is. And we found a lot of info when we finally got this guy identified:


Wingspan between 4 and 4,5 cm
FromWalter Schön's Schmetterling-Seiten

And here is some of what he can tell:
Diurnal. In behaviour, this moth is exceptional amongst European Sphingidae: whilst preferring
to fly in bright sunlight, it will also take wing at dawn, at dusk or at night; in rain, or on cool,
dull days. Very hot weather tends to induce a state of torpidity in many, with activity then
confined to the relative cool of the morning and late afternoon. Herrera (1992) found maximum activity occurring between 18.00 and 20.00 hours in southern Spain.

Whatever the flight-time, this species is very strongly attracted to flowers yielding plentiful
supplies of nectar, such as Jasminum, Buddleja, Nicotiana, Tulipa, Primula, Viola, Syringa, Verbena, Echium, Phlox and Stachys, hovering in front of and repeatedly probing each
bloom before darting rapidly to the next. A great wanderer, being present right across Europe from the alpine tree-line to city centres, wherever nectar flowers may be found. Its powers
of flight are amazing, and have been studied in detail by Heinig (1987). Apparently, this
species also has a fine memory, as individuals return to the same flower-beds every day
at about the same time

From southern Europe and North Africa to Central Asia, the Middle East and Pakistan.
A noted summer migrant to the north. In the southernmost part of its resident range, confined to mountains, as in Iran and Oman. This is only one of two species of sphingid to have reached the Azores (Meyer, 1991).

Extra-limital range. The entire temperate Palaearctic Region as far east as Japan and the
Russian Far East. In winter, a migrant as far south as southern India and the Gambia in Africa.

A single specimen has been recorded from North America, from Unimak Island, Alaska.
This was discovered during 1968 in a University of Washington collection curated by Mike van Buskirk. He had no idea when it had been collected but suspected between 1930 and 1950.


From Walter Schön'sSchmetterling-Seiten
and here you will find pictures from the very beginning of it's life.


Since this page was made, we have received the following from ©Milène in the Netherlands:







 

 



The following received from ©Kveta Pica in Germany:










    




   



 


 Linker:
 From our visit to Greece where we first found this creature
 From Tony Pittaway's great 'lexicon' (english)
  Moths and Butterflies of Europe, picturereview from Italy (english)


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ANIMALS

over 250

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BIRDS

over 500

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FLOWERS

over 225
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