Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum Stellatarum)
By Dylan Burchett
Species: M. stellatarum
The Humming bird Hawkmoth is a species of moth most known for its resemblance in both physical appearance and lifestyle to the hummingbird. This remarkable resemblance is often theorized to be a result of convergent evolution, meaning that it is a great example of two unrelated lineages that have acquired the same biological trait(s). The Hummingbird Hawkmoth is found through much of Europe and Asia, where it flourishes in the summertime and in warmer climates. The Hummingbird Hawkmoth will fly in day or night, rain or shine which is unusual for moths in general. The Hummingbird Hawkmoth has also shown to have a good ability to learn colors, and has shown to have a good memory, often returning to the same flowerbeds at the same time of day in repetition.
Adult Hummingbird Hawkmoths are brown and black on their forewings and black and orange on their hindwings. Their wingspan is 40-45 millimeters and their wings beat fast enough to give off a hum, much like the humming bird.
Form and Function
Hummingbird Hawkmoths feed on the nectar of various plants with their proboscis and are able to hover near the flowers they wish to feed from for long periods of time. Hummingbird Hawkmoths reproduce in pairs by internal fertalization, their courtship can often be seen near large cliffs, buildings, or large areas of open ground. Once a female’s ova have been fertilized, the female feeds and then searches for a proper patch of Galium aparine to deposit its ova on, depositing up to 200 ova at a time. The eggs look similar to the flower buds of the host plant, and will hatch 6-8 days after being deposited. Once the eggs are hatched, a larval stage begins, which lasts about 20 days. The larva will feed on the host plant until becoming pupae. Once maturing is complete, the Hummingbird Hawkmoth will leave its cocoon and come out into the world.
Impact on Humanity
I would assume that the Hummingbird Hawkmoth has some affect on flower pollination, be it the actual transference of pollen, or the prevention of other animals from utilizing their flowers for pollination.
Journal Article Review
This is a journal article about the study of color learning in the Hummingbird Hawkmoth. In this study, a dual-choice situation was created in which two different colored flowers were presented, one giving a reward and the other not. In the study, the Hummingbird Hawkmoth was shown to learn to not only visit the rewarded color, but to avoid the unrewarded color.