Have You Seen A Hummingbird Moth? Here Are 10 Facts That Will Amaze
Is it a bird? Is it a bug? Whatever it is, this wing-beating creature is sure to cause you to do a double take! Meet the hummingbird moth. It’s one of the most fascinating insects (yes, it’s an insect!) to roam the garden. Here are 10 facts that will amaze you:
10 Fascinating Facts About The Hummingbird Moth
1) Hummingbird moth is the common name used for the genus Hemaris, which include: Hummingbird Hawk-Moth, Sphinx moth, Common Clearwing Hummingbird moth, Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird moth, Five-Spotted Hawkmoth, and White-Lined Sphinx.
2) Loathed by gardeners, the tomato or tobacco hornworm caterpillar that you see munching on your tomato plants will eventually morph into a Hawk moth, or Sphinx moth, each a type of hummingbird moth.
3) The moths featured in the 1991 film, The Silence of the Lambs were death’s head hawk moths, a type of hummingbird moth (of the Sphingidae family of moths, in the genus Hemaris). According to IMDb, the moths were treated like celebrities. “They were flown first class… and had special living quarters.”
4) The fast-moving hummingbird moth has a rapid wingbeat up to 70 beats per second (depending on the species), enabling it to fly up to 12 mph.
5) Instead of a beak like a hummingbird, it has a long tongue-like proboscis that rolls out of its coiled tube to reach the nectar deep inside flowers. Its tongue is about double the length of the moth’s body.
6) It has large, menacing eyes that appear to warn predators to keep their distance. Also protecting it from potential predators is its close resemblance to a bird, instead of a bug.
7) They range in length from 2—2.5 inches long and are covered in gray hair that resembles feathers, with white, rust or brown markings or variations. Their wingspan ranges from 2 to 6 inches depending on the species. The Snowberry Clearwing moth has clear wings.
8) The hummingbird moth can be found not only in North America, but in Europe, Africa, and Asia. They have a wide range in the US from Texas and Florida to Maine and Alaska.
9) After mating, the female moth lays eggs on plant leaves such as honeysuckle, cherries, hawthorns, and viburnums. The hatched caterpillar feeds on its host bush or vine.
10) These moths actively feed on flower nectar in the daytime, but you may also get a glimpse of one feeding at dusk on night-blooming flowers such as the evening primrose or night blooming jasmine.
Farmers’ Almanac Members – Learn More About Hummingbird Moths Here.
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Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.
I live in northern Utah. We first saw the hummingbird month 2 years ago. I thought they were hummingbirds, at first. Thank goodness for Google! We had 2 visit our petunia basket last night.
We live in East Helena, Montana…. There are Hummingbird Moths all over our lilac bushes
Here’s a picture
Great photo! Thank you for sharing!
I am in Idaho. Just saw my first hummingbird moths. I knew it looked like a hummingbird but knew something was different. Got to watch it for 30 minutes.
This evening while sitting on our porch swing, we saw about 12 to 14 humming bird moths buzzing our honeysuckle vine. It’s in full bloom.
That must have been a beautiful sight!
I was outside this evening taking photos of my lilacs. Started back into the house and came across this little guy. I’d never seen a hummingbird moth before! I hope it comes back. I’m in Syracuse, NY. This is a still from a video I took.
Lilacs and a hummingbird moth!! You win the prize! How fantastic! We bet he/she will be back!
I discovered a beautiful Hummingbird moth while cutting back some dead vines in front of my house. it was just kind of tucked under hanging out. I left it alone and when I came back later to check on it it was gone. But I got a great picture of it!
I saw one the other day feeding on my flowers in the Long Beach, Ca area at dusk. The little guy was fast!!!!
I was outside taking pictures when I saw something flicker out of the corner of my eye. It was a Hummingbird moth. I have never seen one. Took video of it as it went from flower to flower. It was very exciting as at first I thought it was a bird.
I was working in my garden in Cincinnati, Ohio, when I spotted this humming bird moth going from flower to flower. I ran to get my phone so I could capture it…wish I had time to get my camera but they are so quick. I did get a video too that I’ll try to upload here.
My sister called me from Eustus, FL to tell me she just saw a baby hummingbird. I told her it was probably a hummingbird moth, which it was! I saw them for the first time last summer on the Lantana in Perry, GA, and hope I see them again. We’re both in our 60’s and had never seen them before.
How long do they live? I have had one come visit my flowers on the deck here in Lake Geneva, WI for the past 3 or 4 years, and always say ‘hello’.
Some can live as long as 7 months, but other species only survive 3-7 weeks. Say hello from us!
I saw one for the first time at dusk tonight. I had no idea what is was until I googled what it looked like. I don’t know which category it belongs to. I live in Tulsa. I took a video but could not attach it. So I got the best pic from my video I could.
I was in the garden and this little thing which I thought was an insect but no it was flying so fast and looks like a hummingbird, then it landed on my arm and thought I was a flower!
Saw several drinking from my Jupiter’s beard flowers at dusk last night in Long Beach, CA. They are very charming creatures, and like others, I was unsure for a moment whether I was seeing small hummers or insects.
In Oklahoma City 4/21/23
Did not recognize so tried to get pic before it left Not a wonderful picture. But good enough to ID.
Yes! That’s a beautiful hummingbird moth, indeed!
Saw my first hummingbird moth last evening (4/19/23) at dusk in Grapevine, TX. I had just put my lantanas out and it flew right up and started eating as I was standing nearby. Didn’t have time to take picture. Hope it doesn’t scare my hummers away! I am an older person born in Texas and I don’t recall ever hearing of the hummingbird moth….much less seeing one!!
Saw one last night in Goshen, Ohio.
I saw one early today feeding on the nectar of my honeysuckle plant. Texas Hill Country.
I just saw one I got a video of it too I was like wtf is that I was watering the back yard and thought it was a baby humming bird but I saw it’s drinking straw thing and it was this humming bird moth Im from Hale center TX it was pretty cool
Saw one in Sarasota Florida last night at dusk
Not sure if our post went through. At sunset tonight we saw a Hummingbird Moth on our blue salvia
We live in Sarasota Florida and while watching the sunset at 8pm saw a Hummingbird Moth on our blue salvia plant which we know hummingbirds like.
I had lots last year they loved my salvias
Hummingbird moth in NW Arkansas collecting nectar with a bee friend. What a precious insect. I have a picture but don’t know how to add it
I noticed an odd insect joking the bees in collecting nectar in NW Arkansas. Such a precious insect.
I just saw this hummingbird moth midday out Sycamore Canyon rd, clarkdale az. My first one!
Not the best pic but you can see it
WOW! That is a great capture! Thank you for sharing!
I just saw my first of this spring. I usually have them every year. The one i saw was smaller than the usual ones i see.
Just saw two in my backyard. I’m not sure what they have found to feed on because all I have in my garden right now is a huge rosemary bush.
Yes I have seen one and videoed it on my front porch in Sayre PA. That is exactly what I said it was, a moth hummingbird. It would come around at dusk and feed off my hanging flower baskets. Quite a cute little creature.
I’ve seen them in Delaware while birding along the Delaware river. Beautiful and fun to watch.
I HAVE SEEN SEVERAL OVER THE SUMMERS IN YUKON. UNFORTUNATELY NOT LAST SUMMER. I ONLY EVER SEEM TO GET ONE PER YEARS AND IT LOVES MY LILACS.
Had a late blooming Lemon tree in Houston that brought in a gaggle of these moths one evening. Fascinating to watch.
Seen on southern Sea islands of South Carolina coast
My son and I watched this tiny hummingbird go to town on our jasmine and doing so at such a pace it melted our brains a wee bit. I recall stating that hummingbirds generally hit a few buds and take off with their little zipping squeaks away but this fella wouldn’t quit, he was going to drink all the nectar from each trumpet before nightfall that evening. That’s when we started questioning the possibility of whether it was a mini hummingbird at all. A web search later and here we are. We have an abundance of these enormous sphinx moths that are gorgeous in detail and size enough that my 12 yo has done a report for school on them a couple of years ago (also, wondering why we never found these interesting tidbits of info on them previously as well!). As soon as we saw the picture here of the hummingbird moth we knew that THAT was our mystery greedy, mini, brown hummingbird! Thank you for the interesting article and facts! This little guy is going to be my new arts and crafts topic of obsession for the next little while! Lol. Xo,
Good morning- I believe I have a male hummingbird moth in my garden! Really likes the Esperanza flower
October 2022. Just seen a hummingbird moth in my garden Fareham, Hampshire UK. Exceptionally warm autumn.
Hi the first hummingbird moth I see was 4 years ago in NYC 124th street in morning side park I didn’t know what it was I got scared was like a hummingbird/ bee after a long time I move out of state to florence sc I just see another one color black and brown roaming around my rose’s they are beautiful they to fast for me to take a picture 📸 im fascinated by the looks I need more info about this insect.
Located in northern Illinois close to lake Michigan and just saw my first hummingbird moth. Black with a small white stripe across it’s back. We have many ruby throated hummingbirds in the summer and for a minute I mistook it for a tiny hummingbird on migration but it was definitely an insect and spent a long time on our verbeena. It’s amazing to watch and a very special moment.
I just now saw a humming bird moth , exactly the one shown here ontop, im from Benicasim Spain, i never seen one before and was amazed with my daughter how cute they are
It seems that every fall, after the hummingbirds leave, these fascinating moths come to my black and blue salvia, usually at dusk. I’ve seen them in Ohio and now in my garden in Charleston, SC. I love to watch them flit from bloom to bloom!
Im from South East Queensland in Australia and I was living in a little town called Murgon 2 years ago when I saw a Hummingbird Moth around my Jasmine vine. I wasnt able to get a photo as it was too quick for me. I had never seen one before and I have not seen one since. Was an amazing sight to see
I saw a couple for the first time a few days ago in Cypress, TX. I wasn’t sure what they were but looked like small hummingbirds. Called my neighbor over and she told me what the were. Too cool!
I have one of these hummingbird moths feeding on a purple lantana flower everyday here in Sheridan,AR wasnt sure what it was and was too busy looking at it to be able to get a picture. It is kinda grey in body but has a pink dusty color in its wings
I’ve seen one only once, at least 10 years ago. I was standing beside a planter of petunias when I heard a sound I thought was a hummingbird. I looked down, and at first thought I was looking at a hummingbird. It took me a little while to realize what I was seeing. I had never seen, or heard of, a hummingbird moth prior to that experience.
I was excited at first because I thought it was a humming bird. I tried so hard to attract them even before I worte my book dmtjourneys and was published. Then i had time to focus on my garden finally I seen something flying fast. I was so happy than look again and was like wait what that’s not a humming bird. Surprisingly I seen 3 of them and they let me get close to them take pictures and videos. They flew around me got really close and wasn’t scared at all. So I was like ok we have a mutual respect and understanding. I thought they look weird no lie I wanted to kill it but I love animals and insect plus they seem really cool just minding there own business, so I did the same😎.
Hello I seen 2 of them could not get a picture but the was on my thorn bushes I was so excited I live in wyoming thought I was loosing my mind lol
Saw several of the pink hummingbird moths this evening on my Rangoon Creeper in Pearland, TX. They were too fast for a clear picture.
Wow I found one in my horses stall!!! I’ve never seen a Caterpillar so large he was a good 5-6″ and as thick as a man’s finger! I quickly relocated him or her to a much safer part of the yard.
This Pink Hummingbird Moth was feeding on our petunias this evening!