National Trust Purbeck Wildlife

Is it a bird…?

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The brilliant late August sunshine brought a reasonably good showing of our most colourful butterflies – red admirals, peacocks, commas and an occasional painted lady (though hardly any small tortoiseshells). But these were eclipsed in my view by seeing one of our most unusual moths.


Hummingbird hawk-moths look and behave just like tiny hummingbirds. Not only do they hover over flowers and flit about like hummingbirds, but they also appear to have ‘feathers’ and a ‘tail’, which are actually elongated hairs.  The moths feed from flowers using a proboscis which, at one inch long, is almost the same length as its body.


They are migrants from Southern Europe and are one of the species currently being studied by Butterfly Conservation to map the arrival, spread and departure of migrant insects.  You can report your sightings through their website (search for ‘migrant watch’)



Author: Kevin Rideout

National Trust Visitor Experience Officer based at Studland

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