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SOME HAWKMOTHS (Family: Sphingidae)

This week we will focus on some the lovely moths that we have in Hong Kong. HAWKMOTHS (Family: Sphingidae) AKA SPHINX MOTHS 63 spp. NOTE: This is an excerpt from my book: The Bugs of Hong Kong. (for more info see

HUMMINGBIRD HAWK MOTHS (Macroglossum spp.) Macroglossum stellatarum has bright orange hindwings, and can fly incredibly long distances. It is a North African species which will migrate as far as to the UK for reproduction. That is a long way for me, let alone a small delicate creature like a moth.

Researchers have found that hummingbird hawkmoths make great use of UV light, and can learn to identify colours more quickly compared to other pollinators, thus identifying which flowers contain the richest source of nectar—an essential skill for migrants.

This below is the Coffee Clearwing hawkmoth.

FASCINATING FACTS: These can be confused with birds, little hummingbirds, as they dart around bushes and flowers extracting nectar with their long tongues. Often hovering while taking a meal, its buzzing and humming sound is created by its rapid wing movement—around 70–80 beats per second, depending on the species—enabling it to fly up to 19.3 km/h. Instead of a beak like a hummingbird, it has a long tongue-like proboscis that rolls out of its coiled tube to reach the nectar deep inside flowers. Its tongue is about double the length of the moth’s body. The moths are covered in hair that resembles feather; with white, rust or brown markings or variations. They actively feed on flower nectar in the daytime, but you may also get a glimpse of one feeding at dusk on night-blooming flowers.

See them at rest...if you can.....

SEE THEM Look for them hovering in the air between plants in Shing Mun butterfly gardens; they can also be found in many urban parks. Duranta erecta is a great plant for them.


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