Hummingbird Sphinx Moth in Cosmos Meadow in China

Location: Kunming, China
January 5, 2011 4:22 pm
I came across this very large bug wich looks like a cross between a bee and a hummingbird in the southwest of China in october.
I wonder what it could be, do you know?
Signature: Karin

Diurnal Sphinx on Cosmos in China

Dear Karin,
Your observation that this looked like a cross between a bee and a hummingbird is quite astute as many of the diurnal Sphinx Moths like your example are known as Hummingbird Moths.  We will need to take some time to research the species, but we imagine it can be found on the Sphingidae of the Palaearctic website.  We are also very intrigued with the flower it is feeding upon, the Cosmos, and your photograph of the Cosmos meadow.  Is that a wild meadow?  Or is it, perhaps, a cultivated garden?

Cosmos Meadow in China

Thank you for a very quick reply. The meadow is most probably cultivated in a manner to look wild. It was in a place called Stone Forrest which is a park surrounding a special kind of rock formations found outside Kunming.
Regards, Karin

That makes sense.  We thought afterward that we believe Cosmos are native to Central America, but we did not research that.

Ed. Note: January 7, 2011
Now that time has permitted, we researched the origin of Cosmos, which is Mexico to South America according to a Horticulture website we found.

5 thoughts on “Hummingbird Sphinx Moth in Cosmos Meadow in China”

    • Welcome to What’s That Bug? where our mission is to promote an appreciation of the lower beasts. Thanks for your comment. The images on the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website of the species you mentioned, Macroglossum stellatarum, do not appear to match the image on this posting. The white stripe on the abdomen is absent. Alas, the photo on the posting has a slow shutter speed and the beating of the wings has created a blurring that does not show the details of the markings of the wings.

  1. This is undoubtedly Macroglossum bombylans – according to D’Abrera’s book Sphingidae Mundi. It really is the only Macroglossum with a white mark towards the end of the abdomen. Its range is ‘Burma to China’ so its occurrence on the Chinese Cosmos meadow is well within range.


Leave a Comment