Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Invasion of African Moth That Thinks It's a Hummingbird

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Invasion of African Moth That Thinks It's a Hummingbird

Article excerpt

Byline: Ruth Bloomfield

LONDON'S gardens are facing an exotic alien invader -- a moth that looks just like a bird.

The hummingbird hawk-moth, which has a two-inch wingspan and feeds on nectar, is most commonly found in North Africa.

But a mild winter and warm spring have lured the moths to the capital in record numbers.

Butterfly Conservation, which conducts official counts of the UK moth population, says sightings of the species have increased by more than 230 per cent to almost 1,200 so far this year. Last year fewer than 500 were spotted.

The brown, orange and black moth is regularly mistaken for its namesake bird because of its size and the way it hovers with wings flapping as it explores flowers for food. The moths are particularly fond of buddleia, lavender and honeysuckle, and can live for up to eight months. Real hummingbirds are slightly larger.

Richard Fox, who is leading a [pounds sterling]1 million Heritage Lottery-funded investigation into the state of the moth population, said: "We get regular calls from people who have first phoned the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in a state of surprise in the belief they have spotted a real hummingbird. …

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