Thursday, 3 October 2013

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

A couple of weeks ago we came across this caterpillar.  Identifying it was complicated by confusing which end had the spike - the Diary thought it was a horn like a rhinoceras - which it isn't, it's a tail spine.  We thought it might be some sort of hawk moth caterpillar, but then we received this email from Rob Gill, who lives and runs a business, Geosec Slides, from Achnaha:

"I thought your readers might be interested in a sighting here of a Hummingbird Hawk Moth, busy feeding in my garden. I couldn't take a picture as it was far too quick and never settled on anything. It was fairly obvious what it was as it was hovering in front of flowers and drinking with its tongue. I have not seen one before, and is a fairly rare visitor (it is a migrant) to these parts. There is a survey of these and I have logged my sighting at

"I wondered if anyone else had seen one?"

A BBC site has more about this moth here.

On the subject of caterpillars, can anyone identify this very smart caterpillar, which we found on the slopes of Beinn Bhreac the other day?


  1. It is an Emperor Moth Saturnia pavonia caterpillar after it's final molt - the markings are different throughout its life between molts. It will overwinter as a pupa so was on its way to find somewhere to pupate.

    Derryck from Devon

  2. I knew hummingbird hawk moths visited the UK from the continent as I've seen them in the south of England before but I didn't realise they could make it so far north. .I'll keep a look out for them next summer.

  3. I know it's a long time after the event but I've only just discovered your wonderful blog. The identification of the Humming-bird Hawk-moth caterpillar is unfortunately incorrect, it is in fact a Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth, (Hemaris tityus). This is actually a far rarer insect nationally than Humming-bird Hawk-moth although it is more likely to occur in your particular area.

  4. Hi Tim, many thanks for the identification - very exciting! Will now look out for more. Jon