Bedstraw Hawk-Moth (Hyles gallii)

A couple of years ago Rowan found a caterpillar which we later were able to determine was a hawk-moth. After learning a bit about them, she has been interested in finding one ever since. Last Sunday I happened to notice one resting on the grass at Keet Gooshi Heen softball fields while I was tossing a frisbee with Connor.

It seemed very lethargic, and given the somewhat worn nature of its wings, I thought perhaps it was nearing the end of its life. We brought it home and put it in an enclosure so Rowan could see it the next day. I noticed later in the evening that it was flying around, so when the kids arrived Monday morning, I had them go gather it some fireweed. It was interesting to watch it get nectar from the flowers. Below I’ve included a short (and mediocre quality) video clip I recorded and uploaded to youtube.

It appears that Bedstraw Hawk-Moth is a species of somewhat northern latitudes, but distributed around the world. In this area, it seems likely that it utilizes Cleavers (Galium aparine), Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), and various other Epilobium spp as larval food plants. I’ve heard of other people seeing hawk moths here before, and I may have seen one fly-by me one day by the fireweed patch at the end of Totem Park, but overall they seem to be uncommon.

4 thoughts on “Bedstraw Hawk-Moth (Hyles gallii)”

  1. Matt, I am just now reading this blog for the first time. Thanks for your work as an aspiring naturalist. Who would have though that an uncommon species could be found on the field of frisbee?

  2. I saw many, many of these caterpillars today between Big Lake and Wasilla at a garden. Picked them up and looked at them. Seemed to be several different colors and sizes. How uncommon are these?

  3. Susie – I’m not sure how common they are up there (or in general down here in Sitka), but I do know I’ve seen many more flying adults this summer than I ever have before. I’ve also heard more reports of caterpillars, so I’m this relatively sunny/dry summer has been favorable for them.

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