Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Sphingidae

Hemaris tityus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan 41-46mm. The adults of this dayflying species are densely hairy and resemble bumblebees Bombus spp. The abdomen is ochreous yellow with two black central bands and a dark anal tuft. The wings of the freshly-emerged insect are covered with scales but these quickly fall off after the maiden flight leaving a transparent window with well-defined black-coloured veins. The antennae are long and clubbed.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: The flight period is short from late-May until the end of June.

Status: Originally described by early entomologists as being common and widespread. However, in recent times it has apparently shown a marked decline but the extent of this is difficult to quantify. Recent records indicate a definite retreat westwards to the limestone uplands of Fermanagh, where its stronghold appears to be at present. It has been recorded from all counties during the 1990s but not consistently. It is still seen in most years from some of its well-known haunts at Monawilkin, Legalough, Knockninny and Eshywulligan, where it has been observed in double figures. Outside Fermanagh its appearance is somewhat sporadic, with records from Derryleckagh Fen, Ballyrobert, Seahill, Craigavad, Murlough NNR and Belfast, Down, and at Drumnahavil, Armagh and Bessy Bell Mountain, Tyrone.

Ecology: An attractive bumblebee mimic found on damp moorland, unimproved grassland, and the margins of bogs and marshes. Adults are usually seen flying swiftly in sunshine visiting the flowers of bugle, mouse-ear and lousewort. During dull and inclement weather it rests among the ground vegetation and can be difficult to detect. The larvae can be found on the undersides of devil's-bit scabious from early July until late August. It overwinters as a pupa.

World Distribution: Across Europe north to Lapland and southwards to northwest Africa.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 1982 Agassiz number: 69.008

Additional information:

UK Moths account

 Thompson, R. S. & Nelson, B., 2003 (Oct 2). [In] The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland