Country Corner

The poplar hawkmoth

The poplar hawkmoth

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A dragon-like poplar hawkmoth perches on my finger.

What a spectacular family of moths the hawkmoths are.

Though I can go months without seeing one, two were met with on consecutive days recently.

Firstly, there was this handsome specimen picked up on an Edinburgh job and transferred to my garden where the species sometimes lay eggs on my willow tree.

Then, the very next day, a migratory hummingbird hawkmoth was met with on a job south of Dunbar.

Though members of the same family, the two are very different.

Poplar hawkmoths are nocturnal, while hummingbird hawkmoths, like hummingbirds themselves, are lovers of sun and nectar.

The one I spotted was hovering beside red valerian blooms, while extending its telescopic drinking straw of a tongue to sip nectar.

Though my poplar hawkmoth was no doubt Scottish through and through, the hummer could have hitchhiked on a favourable southerly from France, Spain or even Africa.

These two and a third, the elephant hawkmoth, are the three members of this family we are most likely to come across locally.

So watch out for flying dragons, miniature humming birds and elephantile caterpillars! The hawkmoths are about!

George Hogg, Hogg Estate Services, Wildlife Management