But a moth, the hummingbird hawk-moth to be precise

Dhiraj Gaurh a software engineer living in Wilson Gardens, was out in Lalbagh with his family on Sunday morning. As usual he said he had carried his SLR camera, and this time he had a long lens on. There were hundreds of butterflies around the flowers growing and flowering in profusion everywhere and he took this as a great photo-op.

Then suddenly he says he saw what looked like a humming bird sipping the nectar of the flowers. “It was then that I saw the antennas, antennas like that of a butterfly. This was surely an insect then, but it had me fooled for a while. It’s body was large like that of a hummingbird and the wings were in proportion. In my entire life I had never seen a creature like this one,” says Dhiraj. “My hands shook like when I saw a tiger for the first time. The insect was a very fast flier, it never hovered for long. It just flitted from flower to flower. I set the focus to manual, cranked up the ISO speed and opened the aperture to the widest. Then I assumed certain hyperfocal distances and fired continuous shots. Pretty soon I had hundreds of pictures and upon analysis at home I found out that only three of them were acceptable.”

To check on what it was, Dhiraj contacted his email-group called bngbirds and loaded a picture. It was Nandhu Sridhar who told him that it was the “well named hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum),” which was corroborated by Aishwarya Belliappa.

Sheshadri KS PhD scholar says, “To me, it is a marvel of evolution. I am always fascinated by how convergent evolution has occurred many times in all kinds of organisms. As seen in this case, a moth that hovers in the air for nectar is easily associated with a hummingbird which pretty much does the same thing but are separated by continents and seven seas. That is natural selection at work.”

A winter visitor from Central Asia, the moth loves sunshine but can feed at any time and even in the rain. Fond of nectar rich flowers with a narrow calyx, it has no competition from birds thanks to its long proboscis. The moths tend to return to the same flowers at the same time, everyday. The hummingbird hawk-moth prefers warmth and that is the reason for it being seen here, as it winters in warm India.

As Dhiraj says, “We are not alone on this planet, there are many creatures we share our lives with and we should look out for them and enjoy their presence.”

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