Three days ago, on a breezy day with fresh south-westerly winds, this monster of a moth turned up in the Obs garden. Found by Mark who luckily spotted it resting on the roof of the Heligoland trap, this Convolvulus Hawkmoth is by far the highlight of this year’s lepidoptera efforts on the island.
This species is one of the largest occurring moths in the UK. A resident population in Africa are the source of the migrants which reach Europe to breed. It is most likely that the offspring of these individuals form the majority of migrants reaching the UK between June and September. There are annual records from the south and east counties of England, but records become more sporadic in the north of the UK.
Here on Bardsey, there have been a total of ten records between the 1950s and recent years. This individual therefore brings the total to eleven- the last one on the island was back in 2010, when I found a bedraggled individual at the bottom of a Heath Trap filled with hundreds of Heath Rustics and Square-spot Darts! To see such a stunning and relatively mint individual as this was fantastic. The proboscis of this species is very long, which enables it to feed at tubular flowers such as Tobacco, Petunia, and Lilly. The adults are able to live for about 5 weeks.