‘The Hawk Moth’ – Nature’s Amazing Insect Introduced in brief by Andrew J Sebastian

Every moment in discovery is unique.. take the time to be curious & things come alive – colour, patterns, intrigue.. !  

Some friends found this beauty lurking on one of the office pillars one afternoon. The Hawk Moth is known for being as cool as the hawk with a penchant for taking adaptive measures to escape detection by its predators.

The term “hawk moth” is commonly used to refer to a family of moths called Sphingidae, and there is a rough estimate of 1,400 species in this family. Other commonly used names are sphinx moths and hornworms. The hawk moth is considered to be one of the faster flying insects, with some species flying at speeds exceeding 5.3 m/s.
They have a wingspan ranging from 4 to 20cm and a proboscis of lengths 10cm and above.

The geographical distributions of these moths are varied, and they can be found in Europe, Africa, Madagascar and Asia depending on the species. It is believed that Malaysia has the highest diversity of hawk moths in the world.

Hawk moths have a streamlined abdomen and short, bullet shaped bodies with long, narrow forewings and short hind wings which are adaptations for their rapid, sustained flying abilities which allow them to move quickly from side to side while hovering which is useful for avoiding an ambush from predators that hide among the flowers.

The bat is one of the hawks moth’s major enemies. Bats use echolocation for many purposes and by emitting a high pitched frequency they can locate their prey. The hawk moths have adapted by producing their own sound, an ultrasound that counters the bats’ echolocation. They do this by vibrating a region in their lower abdomen. It is also used to warn other hawk moths in the vicinity of the bats’ presence and to join in to jam the bats echolocation so as to confuse the bat.

(Article as appears in The Malaysian Naturalist,  2012: Re-edited Sept 2015) (Identified as the Oleander Hawk Moth (Daphnis nerii)

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