A Hummingbird hawkmoth captured midflight feeding on a purple flower with its long proboscis.

Hummingbird Hawk-Moth: The Bird-Mimicking Insect with a Remarkable Nectar-Sipping Proboscis

**Name:** Hummingbird Hawk-Moth (*Macroglossum stellatarum*)

**Where It Lives:** This unique creature calls Europe and North Africa its home. It embarks on a journey north during the summer and heads south when winter arrives.

**What It Eats:** Its diet consists purely of nectar.

**Why It’s Awesome:** Picture this: a creature that mirrors the appearance and behavior of a hummingbird but is, in fact, a moth. The hummingbird hawk-moth is a marvel of nature, buzzing around with wings that flutter so rapidly they emit a humming sound. This phenomenon is a classic case of convergent evolution, where unrelated species evolve similar traits.

This moth flaps its wings approximately 85 times every second. This rate surpasses that of certain hummingbird species, as highlighted by PBS Nature.

A standout feature of the hummingbird hawk-moth is its preference for flowers with tube-like petals. It boasts a long, curled proboscis, which it skillfully uses to sip nectar from the heart of flowers. Impressively, its proboscis can be as long as its body and remains coiled when not in use.

One of the most astonishing attributes of the hummingbird hawk-moth is its vision. This moth relies on its eyesight to accurately place its lengthy proboscis into the center of flowers.

To grasp the complexity of this task, Anna Stöckl from the University of Konstanz in Germany, who studies animal vision, likens it to a human attempting to insert a straw, as tall as themselves, into a glass using only their mouth.

**Related:** A rarely seen giant wood moth with a wingspan of 10 inches was discovered at an Australian school.

In research published on January 29 in the journal PNAS, Stöckl and her team employed high-speed cameras to observe hawk-moths as they hovered near artificial flowers adorned with various patterns. They discovered that the moths utilize continuous visual feedback to adjust their movements and ensure the proboscis reaches the nectar at the center of the pattern.

This behavior, guided by vision, typically requires complex neural circuits more common in mammals. However, the hummingbird hawk-moth demonstrates that even with a simpler nervous system, it can perform this intricate task.

“Using vision to guide an appendage is quite rare in insects. Discovering an insect that can maneuver a unique appendage with vision was truly fascinating,” Stöckl remarked.