Pollination Party – Moths 1

More perfect shots from Nightjar, this time Hummingbird Hawk Moth Macroglossum stellatarum.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

It reminded me of a fun anecdote – during my studies at uni, one of my half-classmates mentioned one evening in the pub that he has observed a beautiful hummingbird in his garden. Pedantic killjoy as I am, I have pointed out that there are no hummingbirds in Europe, so what he has in fact observed was in this moth.

It was mildly embarrassing moment, because he was his half-classmateship was the biology half (me studying Biology-Chemistry, him studying Biology-IT). But there was no real reason for him to be embarassed. Nobody has perfect knowledge about everything and their similarity to hummingbirds in flight is really uncanny.

I have seen these beautiful moths occasionaly in my garden, but never when I had camera in hand.




  1. rq says

    Did I ever tell the story about how, the first time I saw a hawk moth, I thought I’d seen a mythological creature (the extremely rare bird-fairy, to be exact -- and I’m from the land of hummingbirds)? Didn’t help that I haven’t seen one since (in real life) but it was only about 20 years later that I identified it properly via the commenters at FtB. It’s almost weird, it was an unsolved mystery for so long, yet I didn’t feel sad that the magic was gone -- probably because naturally occurring hawk moth magic is that much stronger (and I was convinced a rational explanation was out there).
    Anyway, these shots are magnificent and amazing. What a beautiful subject for your portraits, Nightjar, and nicely captured. Little anthropomorphized (by me) expressions and all.

  2. says

    Amazing shots
    I love haek moths. They’re called “dovetails” in German and are quite frequent (as in I see several over summer) here.
    First time we saw them, though, we were convinced it was an escaped hummingbird.

  3. Nightjar says

    Thanks. They are frequent here and I remember I was quite puzzled the first time I noticed them as a kid. It definitely looked bird-like, so I asked my father, a bird enthusiast, what was the smallest bird we had here, because I had just seen a really tiny one.
    “Wren? Tit? Firecrest?”
    “No, dad, smaller than those, it was hovering over the flowers.”
    “Oh, that’s a butterfly* then, some do that.”
    I wasn’t convinced, but I felt vindicated later on when I learned their name included the word “hummingbird”.

    *Not entirely wrong. One of the Portuguese names for moth is “nocturnal butterfly”, even though not all moths are nocturnal.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    Magnificient creatures.

    The colours of the flowers as well as the light on and details of the moths are gorgeous.

  5. Nightjar says

    Thanks, Ice Swimmer.

    I’m now wondering if with a proper macro lens I could get a detailed close up of those compound eyes. They look fascinating and so unusual.

  6. voyager says

    Nightjar, I will probably never see a Hawk Moth in person, but your photos make me feel like I’m right there looking with you. You have such a talent for capturing the feel of a moment.

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