CHESHIRE gardeners could be forgiven for thinking they’ve walked out of their patio doors and into a tropical rainforest thanks to an unusual foreign visitor.

At almost two inches in length, the hummingbird hawkmoth from Southern Europe and Africa is becoming a regular visitor to the Cheshire countryside.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust hears of a number of sightings during late summer every year, and their aquatic expert Dr Mike Tynen has already encountered the rare visitor in his neighbour’s garden this year.

Dr Tynen said: “I spend a lot of time checking out the abundance of butterflies in the gardens, but as soon as I saw this much larger creature with the distinctive hovering flight I grabbed for my binoculars to be sure of what I was seeing, and to my delight it was a hummingbird hawkmoth.”

The unmistakable acrobatic flight typical of a hummingbird and the audible ‘hum’ from its wings has had hundreds of people rubbing their eyes in a double-take this summer.

While sightings vary year-on-year, during 2006 more than 100 records were collated by the Cheshire Moth Group in the region.