To bee or not to bee

On the phone this afternoon…
Listening to a contractor…
Idly watching a patch of red valerian outside the window…
A Hummingbird Hawkmoth buzzed into view!

Although there’s really no mistaking them, these eye-catching, day-flying, hovering-like-a-helicopter migrants confuse many people – some think they have seen an exotic bee, others (and occasionally journalists!) file reports of tiny hummingbirds seen swiftly darting across parks and gardens. If you are lucky enough to spot one keep looking at the same patch of flowers as they tend to keep returning to the same spot.

Sometimes they are called Bee-hawks, but we have a couple of true bee mimics – the Broad-bordered and the Narrow-bordered Hawkmoths. Both resemble convincing bumblebees with transparent wings and fluffy bodies. I’ve yet to see either of these, but once found the caterpillar of the Hummingbird Hawkmoth on the lower slopes of Brown Clee Hill in Shropshire.

Some years – 2006 was the last time – we see a great influx of Hummingbird Hawkmoths… could this be a bumper year? Keep a look out!


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