Hawk moth feeding on pentas

brown moth at pink flowers
Hawk moth, Macroglossum micacea, feeding on pentas

Ten days ago I posted a photo of a hawk moth caterpillar feeding on our pentas plant, and today I have photos of an adult moth visiting pentas flowers for nectar.

I happened to spot the moth just on dusk and I have to say it was a much more challenging subject than the caterpillar, firstly because it moved so fast – hovering to feed, darting away and returning to another flower, etc, and never staying in one spot for more than a few seconds. Secondly, there wasn’t much light so I had to use the flash(which is why the background is so dark) and still had to use a fairly low shutter speed which left many of my shots with motion blur. The photos here are two of the best of about twenty I took. (Then again, poor shots cost nothing but time with digital photography. Would I have taken up insect photography in the age of film? Absolutely not!)

The moth is a species I have seen here before, Macroglossum micacea, always in the early evening. I don’t know what the caterpillar looks like and it seems that my favourite lepidoptera site doesn’t know either – it doesn’t show or describe the caterpillar on its page about the species – and even a Google image search produced no results.

The same moth from behind.
The same moth from behind

2 thoughts on “Hawk moth feeding on pentas”

    1. Hi, Robyn,
      ‘Hummingbird Moth’ is very appropriate but the usual Australian common name for members of the family is definitely ‘Hawk Moth’.
      Wikipedia is reasonably clear: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphingidae covers the whole family, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hummingbird_hawk-moth describes a moth in the same genus as mine (but not the same species) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemaris describes another genus, still in the same family.
      It looks like ‘Hummingbird Moth’ might be a more common name in the USA.

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