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Macroglossum stellatarum

Macroglossum stellatarum



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Published by vania82

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: vania82 on May 22, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Macroglossum stellatarum1
Macroglossum stellatarum
Hummingbird Hawk-mothScientific classification
 M. stellatarum
Binomial name
 Macroglossum stellatarum
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Hummingbird Hawk-moth
 Macroglossum stellatarum
) is a species of Sphingidae. Its long proboscis and itshovering behavior, accompanied by an audible humming noise, make it look remarkably like a hummingbird whilefeeding on flowers. It is theorised that this resemblance is a result of convergent evolution. It flies during the day,especially in bright sunshine, but also at dusk,
dawn, and even in the rain, which is unusual for even diurnalhawkmoths.
Its visual abilities have been much studied, and it has been shown to have a relatively good ability tolearn colours.
Distribution map
: Blue, possible summer distribution; green year round; yellow,winter
The Hummingbird Hawk-moth is distributedthroughout the northern Old World fromPortugal to Japan, but is resident only inwarmer climates (southern Europe, NorthAfrica, and points east). It is stronglymigratory and can be found virtuallyanywhere in the hemisphere in the summer.However it rarely survives the winter innorthern latitudes (e.g. north of the Alps inEurope, north of the Caucasus in Russia).Moths in the
genus of the familySphingidae are known as "hummingbird
Macroglossum stellatarum2
The wing action is frozen in this photo by usingelectronic flash. This picture was shot in Hanko,Finland, latitude 60°N, on August 19, 2006, thusfar north of the typical residential distribution.
moths" in the US, and "bee moths" in Europe, which sometimes causesconfusion between this species and the North American genus.
Life cycle
A Hummingbird Hawk-moth (adult), France
Two or more broods are produced each year. The adult may beencountered at any time of the year, especially in the south of therange, where there may be three or four broods. It overwinters as anadult in a crevice among rocks, trees, and buildings.
On very warmdays it may emerge to feed in mid-winter.
The glossy pale green eggs are spherical with a 1 mm diameter. Theyare said to look like the flower buds of the host plant
, and thatis where the female lays them. They hatch 6 to 8 days after laying.
Up to 200 eggs may be laid by one female, eachon a separate plant.
Newly hatched larvae are clear yellow, and in the second instar assume their green coloration.The larva is green with two grey stripes bordered in cream along the sides and the horn at the rear end typical of sphingids. The horn is purplish red, changing to blue with an orange tip in the last instar.
They feed fully exposedon the top of the host plant and rest in among a tangle of stems. Although dependent on warmth and sun, the larvalstage can be as rapid as 20 days.
Macroglossum stellatarum3
The pupae are pale brownish with a prominent, keeled proboscis, and two sharp spines at the end of the cremaster.They are enclosed in loose silken cocoons among the host plant debris or on the ground among leaf litter.
 Macroglossum stellatarum
at rest in a breeding cage,France
The forewings are brown, with black wavy lines across them, andthe hindwings are orange with a black edge. The abdomen is quitebroad, with a fan-tail of setae at the end. The wingspan is40
45 mm.In the southern parts of its range, the Hummingbird Hawk-moth ishighly active even when temperatures are high, and thoracictemperatures above 45 °C have been measured.
This is amongthe highest recorded for hawkmoths, and near the limit for insectmuscle activity
Host plants
Larvae usually feed on bedstraws or madders (
) but has been recorded on other Rubiaceae and
Adults are particularly fond of flowers with lots of nectar (e.g.
). They are reported to trap-line, i.e. return to the same flower bedsat about the same time each day. This insect pollinates many popular garden flowers which form tube-like organscontaining nectar.
External links
All life stages pictured
More photos, and Pittaway's description
[1]Herrera (1992). "Activity pattern and thermal biology of a day-flying hawkmoth (
 Macroglossum stellatarum
) under Mediterranean summerconditions".
 Ecological Entomology
: 52
56. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2311.1992.tb01038.x.[2]Pittaway, AR. (1993).
The Hawkmoths of the Western Palaearctic
. Harley Books, London.[3]Kelber, Almut (1996). "Colour learning in the hawkmoth
 Macroglossum stellatarum
 J. Exp. Biol.
: 1127

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