June 1, 2022
Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moth – Hemaris tityus
On a fresh late spring day, the Wyre Forest Study Group was fortunate enough to be given permission to visit a relatively undisturbed and privately owned part of the forest.
As is usual, members of the group had initially met and gathered at one of the public car parks before forming a small convoy of vehicles and driving some distance, deep into the forest.
On arrival at our location, we were provided with a brief history of the area, which had changed ownership over several years. Off the beaten track, the area was of particular interest from an entomology and botanical point of view. John Bingham has had some previous experience of the area over several decades and was able to suggest several target species of insects to survey for. Among these was impressively named Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth (Hemaris tityus). John thought that it was the perfect seasonal time and likely habitat to find this nationally scarce day time flying moth.
This highly specialised insect is only on the wing for a very brief period in late May & early June. During this period, after mating, the eggs of the next generation are laid singly on the underside of the larval food plant, most often Devil’s-bit Scabiuos (Succisa pratensis), but also on Small Scabious (Scabiosa columbaria) and Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis).
John had explained, the challenge was that that the Scabious wouldn’t be in flower as such and therefore could only be identified by the prone leaf. Green on green! Therefore the group members had to move with the utmost caution in order to avoid possible damage to egg laying adults.
Happily one Narrow-bordered Hawk Bee-moth was found and recorded thanks to the keen eyes of Jane Pope. The moth was fairly inactive, likely due to the still cool temperatures, but was among the leaves of Devil’s-bit Scabious, so suggesting that it might have been an egg laying female.