a somewhat occasional blog

Green roof plants go in, the Hummingbird Hawk-moth arrives

We had only just planted the wildflower plugs when the Hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatrum) appeared on the green roof. The fact that nothing was actually in flower did not put the hungry hawk-moth off. It went from plant to plant in search of nectar.

Nature Arrives on a green roof – Hummingbird hawk-moth

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

I was without my macro lens, but even with that I think I would have struggled to get a ‘good’ shot of the miniature ‘hummingbird’. It was so intent on it’s mission to find nectar (or so I thought) that at that speed it would have been a bit of blur regardless of the lens. But was it searching for nectar? Or was seeking a plant for something else?


Hummingbird Hawk-moth on a green roof

We had planted the roof with a range of wildflowers – red valerian (Centranthus ruber), kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) , Ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) and Bird’s foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) to name a few. What was interesting was the Hummingbird hawk-moth went to each plant and in a nano moment had dismissed it’s usefulness and moved on. The only plants it came to rest on, albeit only briefly, were those of Lady’s bedstraw (Gallium verum).


Hummingbird Hawkmoth - on Lady's bedstraw

I now know way, because I forgotten that Lady’s bedstraw is the food plant of the Hummingbird hawk-moths caterpillars. So was this a female laden with eggs searching for a home for her offspring?Or was it male hoping to find a female to frolic with around the Lady’s bed?

Who knows? But what the Hawk-moth did tell me and the others gathered on the roof that even before the green roof was finished it was working for nature. During the day we also saw Red admirals (Vanessa atalanta), Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) and another moth,  Angle shades (Phlogophera meticulosa) had all visited the roof, as well as four or five hoverflies and at least three white-tailed bumblebees (Bombus lucorum).


The green roof being installed is the final one in a series that have been installed across London as part of the SITA NATURE ENHANCED – Buglife and Livingroofs – green roof project. The roofs are on Abbey Hive Community Centre, Abbey Road. As the roofs have been installed in part for rare beetles the Abbey Road connection is rather apt.

The roof was designed by the Green Roof Consultancy, installed by Landmark Living Roofs Ltd, using an Optigreen/Flag green roof system and waterproofing. The planting of the green roof was done by members of the London Borough of Camden’s Regeneration and Sustainability team, Dr. G. Kadas, Clare Dinham of Buglife, my son and his mate Harry.

And of course me!

There will be more posts on this roof form various partners of the next few weeks.

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