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Japanese hummer (18)
accassidy Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 162 W: 119 N: 596] (2454)
Hummingbird hawk-moth, Macroglossum stellatarum

This hawk moth is named after its resemblance to a hummingbird, with its rapid hovering motion as it feeds on the nectar of flowers. Moths in the similar Hemaris genus of the family Sphingidae are known as "hummingbird moths" in the US, and "bee moths" in Europe, which sometimes causes confusion between this species and the North American genus.

Physical Description
The larvae/caterpillars grow to about 60mm in length. They are very colourful with a green or reddish-brown body with white dots and dark, white and yellow stripes, black spiracles and a blue, yellow-tipped horn. The sexes are similar in appearance. The moth itself is often mistaken for a hummingbird as it hovers above the flowers. The moths have a brown, white-spotted abdomen, brown forewings and orange hindwings. They have a wingspan of 40-50 mm. The wings beat so fast that they produce an audible hum.

Distribution
Hummingbird hawk-moths are abundant in Mediterranean countries, Central Asia and Japan. In the British Isles they can be spotted every year in the summer from June to September and have been recorded as far north as the Orkney and Shetland Islands. They inhabit lowland areas.

Diet
The larvae feed on bedstraw (Galium). The adult moths are day-flyers and feed on the nectar of flowers such as orchids and petunias. They feed by hovering in front of a flower, probing it repeatedly using the proboscis.

Behaviour
Hummingbird hawk-moths are day fliers, preferring bright sunlight, but may also be seen at dawn and dusk and rarely at night. They are strongly attracted to flowers with a plentiful supply of nectar such as petunias, honeysuckle and buddleia. Studies have noted that have a remarkable memory, and return to the same flowerbeds at the same time everyday. They cannot survive the winter months and in Europe migrate to southern parts.

Reproduction
Moths locate their mates by scent, with sight playing a small part. Hummingbird hawk-moths have been seen to demonstrate aerial courtship chases, with the male and female engaging in rapid pursuits low over the ground, or spiral upwards together.

Conservation status
They are not listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

TN has a number of pictures of stellatarum from Europe, but none it appears from Japan. This will fill the gap!

The difficult question when photographing these insects is whether to go for a very fast shutter speed and try for "frozen" wing details or to use a slower speed and show the "blur" of rapidly moving wings. In this shot I chose the former; at least this helps in showing the patterns on the forewing. Even at 1/1500th, however, the nearer wing still shows some motion, so perhaps this is a little of both styles.

The shot was hand-held in bright sunlight in the park gardens just outside the Kyoto steam locomotive preservation museum, in the heart of Kyoto city. It has been cropped, resized and sharpened using Photoshop CS3.

Altered Image #1

accassidy Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 162 W: 119 N: 596] (2454)
Crop, Clone, Sharpen
Edited by:earthtraveler Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 427 W: 123 N: 947] (3483)

I cropped the left side and bottom a bit and cloned out the lone petal I found distracting. Now the attention is more focused on the subject. I also sharpened selectively the moth and center of the flower using magnetic lasso tool to isolate and used unsharp mask tool to sharpen.

Richard