Macroglossum Stellatarum

I was in Donzdorf near the Swabian Jura on Saturday and Sunday and saw this insect I have never seen before. It looks like a humming bird, hovering in front of this catmint plant. The orange blur is the wings.


It is called a humming-bird hawk moth in English and Taubenschwänzchen in German. It comes from the south every year – Donzdorf is further south than here and it has been really hot in Germany for weeks now – it overwinters as an adult but few survive north of the Alps. It’s a moth, but diurnal. There are better pictures amd more information in English on this site. And here are pictures and text on a German site.
A Finnish site shows a distribution map.

22 thoughts on “Macroglossum Stellatarum

  1. First time I have ever seen one of these on a butterfly plant in Clifton (near Shefford) Bedfordshire SG17 England.

    A very fascinating precise elegant moth, I was a little unsure what it was at first but once surfing the web and finding this website it was a lot clearer

  2. I saw this fabulous moth in Machynlleth Mid Wales on 12 August 2003. I have never seen one before. It was feeding on plants outside the White Lion Hotel.

  3. 19/08/03

    Saw for the first time ever a hummingbird hawk moth, could not believe my eyes as have never ever seen anything like it. Thought it must have been a hummingbird to start with but was able to get so close – 18 inches aprox !!! – that i realised it was a moth. It was feeding on a hanging basket of flowers for quite a few minutes then sadly flew away. We are Essex/Suffolk boarder, has any one else in this area seen one ?

  4. deze vlinder in de eigen tuin te Kerkrade (Nederland) op meerdere dagen rond 10-21 augustus 2003 waargenomen

  5. deze vlinder in de eigen tuin te Kerkrade (Nederland) op meerdere dagen rond 10-21 augustus 2003 waargenomen

  6. Saw this for the first time at lunch today, having a good feed on the bizzie lizzies in my garden in Bracknell Berkshire. Had great fun this afternoon trying to identify it through the internet. Good description on the RSPB site – obviously gets mistaken for a hummingbird sometimes !!!! Facinating to watch

  7. Vorig jaar 2 exemplaren in augustus , dit jaar wel zo’n 8 stuks in de tuin . Vooral op paars/lila bloemen van ijzerhard en vlinderstruik , schitterend om te zien , net kleine vogeltjes . Niet schuw , je kunt er vlak bij komen

  8. There have been a number of comments while I was away. Nikki, thanks for the link to the RSPB site

    Are there more of them with the warm summer this year?
    Brenda: about the Essex/Suffolk border, I just searched in Google ( for
    macroglossum essex suffolk
    and there is a reference for Suffolk in July 2002

    I also found a Belgian site in English:
    – it talks about 478 sightings in 1996, as late as November. Perhaps the 2003 figures will come in later. You can find some sightings in 2003 news on that site too.
    There’s a trekvlinders (migratory moths?) site in the Netherlands, in English as well as Dutch:

  9. Here are some of the links I gave that did not appear in my last note! (Dutch) (same in English) (2003 news, Belgium, in English) (1997 news, Belgium, in English) (RSPB site, English)

    Quote from RSPB:

    In the British Isles they can be seen somewhere every year, and have been recorded in every county as far north as the Orkney and Shetland Islands. The numbers that reach our shores can vary greatly between years. The main season runs from June to September, with smaller numbers recorded throughout the rest of the year.

    Hummingbird hawk moth breeds regularly in the UK, and larvae have been found in most years in July and August.

  10. Saw this for the first time this evening – 31st August at dusk – although neighbour has seen same or similar earlier this summer. Typical Macroglossum stellatarum, but with interesting colouring – dark green and yellow-splotched body. Neighbour might have seen pink version, although he’s not sure. I saw the green and yellow one at about 8pm (dusk) feeding on a buddleia. Very impressive indeed!

  11. I saw one of these fascinating creatures for the first time in my life in my office in Bad Oeynhausen, Germany a few weeks ago. It was hovering near the window, purposefully inspecting the window and it’s frame, apparently looking for a way out. I have never seen a moth act this intelligently. What struck me the most: it turned away from light source (the window) to inspect part of the wall! I caught it in a glass, then carefully lifted the glass to take a couple of pictures. It didn’t try to escape, it just sat there calmly (perhaps it was tired) until I was finished photographing it. Then I opened the window and let it out. I just found out today what it was. What fascinating creatures God put on this Earth for us to discover!

  12. I saw the Hummingbird hawk moth for the first time today on Saterday the 13th of September 2003 in The Netherlands in the town Lelystad. It was feeding on some flowers in the garden at around 2 pm. It is a very exciting thing to see!

  13. I saw this moth for the first time 2 days ago in Devon, England. I think my husband thought I had been out in the sun too long when I tried to explain…..good job I took a photo.

  14. Our son saw this moth in Hoorn, North Holland, about 2 weeks ago: he said that he had seen something that looked like a humming bird (but knew it couldn’t be). I read in the paper yesterday that there have been more sightings in North Holland this summer.

  15. I have seen 2 pieces macroglossum stellatarum this september 2003 in the Swiss Alpes near Grindelwald. Great creatures !

  16. I have now (25th June 2004) closed comments on this entry, because I keep getting comment spam. But if you want to add a comment, just send it to me by e-mail and I’ll put it in.

  17. Saw the hawkmot 08-07-2004 in our garden.
    I live in Wijnandsrade, near Nuth in the south of Limburg, Holland

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