Species Account

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Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Migrant

Local Status: Fairly common and widespread migrant.

Local Record: Grade 1   See here for explanation

Flight time: Apr-Dec, (mostly Aug-Sep).

Forewing: 20-24mm.

Foodplant: Lady's Bedstraw, other bedstraws. Wild Madder.

IMPORTANT - Please note that the maps and accounts are provisional, subject to change and further update.  The whole dataset still needs to go through the final verification process and it is likely that a very small number of records will not satisfy the present requirements and there are other records that have not been formally submitted.  The information is for guidance only.

Record breakdown:

Year first recorded190119981901
Year last recorded201120112011
Number of records986222016
Number of individuals1306222656
Unique positions2335476
Unique locations1906392
Adult records950221944
Immature records9018

For the region, we have a total of 2016 records from 392 sites. Earliest record on file is in 1901.


1984 Humming-bird Hawk-moth 05
© Will Bown
1984 Humming-bird Hawk-moth 04
© Martin Cade, 9 Aug 2010
1984 Humming-bird Hawk-moth 03
© Martin Cade, 29 Aug 2011
1984 Humming-bird Hawk-moth 02
© Paul Harris
1984 Humming-bird Hawk-moth 01
© Tom Morris

Species Account

For further information refer UK Moths.

Davey, P., 2009: A strongly migratory species headquartered south of 40°N that ranges from a near annual in southern England, to uncommon in northern Scotland, the larva feeding on hedge bedstraw (Galium mollugo), lady's bedstraw (Galium verum) and wild madder (Rubia peregrina).

In Dorset, the moth (the ultimate flying machine!) is an increasingly regular visitor. Individuals have been recorded in every month of the year, but those seen in the first half tend to be immigrants from abroad. Exceptionally, larvae may be found in mid-summer fully exposed and feeding on lady's bedstraw growing within dry unimproved short-turf grassland; 2003 was a particularly good season for larval records: Freshwater Bay, thirteen larvae on lady's bedstraw on 10 July 2003 (R Cook), and Badbury Rings, four larvae on lady's bedstraw on 9 July 2003 (P Davey). There is one record of a larva feeding on goosegrass (Galium aparine).

Adults seen in the second half of the year may be home-grown, but undoubtedly resident populations are augmented by further waves of immigrants from transient colonies in northern Europe, or from sources further south. Classic behaviour of the moth is to hover hummingbird-like whilst nectaring on flowers or to examine wall faces or rocks in sunshine by day, however, roughly ten per cent of all adult records relate to individuals attracted to moth traps. Increasingly, examples are being recorded during the winter and early spring months often from inside buildings in or emerging from a state of hibernation: Swanage, flying at 2:30pm in the pharmaceutical department of Leo's Superstores on 14 December 2004 (R Eden), Blandford Forum, inside a closed-down shop, alive and stuck between the window and the 'To Let' poster on 15 March 1997 (P Davey).

See background to species accounts.  Index of Vernacular names - Search - Random Species