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African Hummingbird Hawk-Moth

Macroglossum trochilus


Visted by this Humming Bird moth from the Hawk Moths Family (sphingidae). Feeding at midday this beautiful moth arrived and hovered around our newly opened blooms of duranta flowers (durunta steyermarkii) for about 10 minuets while i struggled to keep up with it. As its name suggests it beats it wings very fast with a faint humming sound as it displays great aeronautical skill and control. The body starts at a pointed nose and continues down a reddish brown thorax and abdomen with white abdominal fans open for stability in flight. Its beautiful eyes help to pinpoint tubular flower entries for its long thin tongue as it constantly refeuls to power its flight. Common favourite foods are perennial basil and lavender plants.


A range of veld types but often seen in gardens or farms growing its food types.


Shot on a cannon 100mm Macrolens set on manual focus. Set on shutter speed priority of 1/4000 with iso and f stop on auto. Sunny day allowed for faster shooting.

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Michael Strydom
Michael Strydom 2 years ago

Hi Niel. Thanks for the kind words! :)

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 2 years ago

What a beautiful creature. Excellent photos and info, Michael. Belated congrats on your SOTD.

DanielePralong 2 years ago

You're welcome Michael! If you check the article I linked to you'll find more information about their eye, including the dark spot you can see well in your images.

Michael Strydom
Michael Strydom 2 years ago

Thank you very much Daniele. I love the description you wrote. I did not know their eyes were so specialised!!

DanielePralong 2 years ago

Great images Michael! Your African Hummingbird Hawk-Moth is our Spotting of the Day. So fast: 1/4000 and you can still se some motion through the wings!

"Champion hoverer! This African hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum trochilus, family Sphingidae) is our Spotting of the Day. This African counterpart to the northern Old World hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) is found throughout southern and eastern Africa as well as in the Comoro Islands. Hummingbird hawk-moths hover in front of flowers, siphoning out nectar with their long straw-like proboscis. High speed film recordings have shown that hummingbird hawk-moths generate lift by moving their wings in a figure-eight pattern. Being day-time flyers, hummingbird hawk-moths have eyes with a special feature: their eye center is more densely packed with photoreceptors than the edges, so that objects directly in front can ben seen in more details. This helps hummingbird hawk-moths judge their distance from targeted flowers. North America also has a number of sphingid hummingbird-like moths belonging to a different genus (Hemaris).
Find out about hummingbird hawk-moths and convergent evolution: "



Michael Strydom
Michael Strydom 2 years ago

Thanks very much Greg :)

Greg Shchepanek
Greg Shchepanek 2 years ago

Brilliant capture.

Michael Strydom
Spotted by
Michael Strydom

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Spotted on Nov 26, 2018
Submitted on Nov 26, 2018

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