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Have You Seen A Hummingbird Moth? Here Are 10 Fascinating Facts

Have You Seen A Hummingbird Moth? Here Are 10 Fascinating Facts

Is it a bird or a bug? It buzzes, hovers, and flies like a hummingbird from flower to flower. There’s something about this rapid wing-beating creature that may just cause you to do a double-take. It’s one of the most fascinating insects (yes, it’s an insect!) to roam the garden, and we’ve got facts about hummingbird moth that are sure to amaze!

Hummingbird hawk-moth

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. Just like the hummingbird, the hummingbird moth’s buzzing and humming sound is created by its rapid wing movement.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. The hummingbird moth can be found not only in North America, but in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

Have you seen one of these fascinating creatures? Tell us in the comments below!

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  • Melina says:

    I’ve just seen one on our pansies in the garden. Wondered what it was and found it on good old google. Managed to get done fantastic pictures and videos! Very pleased to have seen this. Cardiff, UK

  • Viv says:

    Have had a regular visit from a hummingbird hawk moth for the last few mornings & evenings

  • Bambi says:

    Saw one on my butterfly Bush in Fleetwood pa today.

  • Ian Bell says:

    I was in the garden around 16.00 hrs when I spotted the moth, but at the time I didn’t know what it was. I picked up my phone & managed to capture a small video of it feeding of our bush. It was only today when I was told it was some kind of hawk moth that I actually found it it was the hummingbird type.
    This was in the Bristol area in the UK.

  • Kathryn Bateman says:

    Live in cresco iowa. Seen several but didn’t know what it was. All the hummingbirds are gone. Sept.24 2020

  • Collins says:

    Auburn,Ga… we have them now on our white flower bush again this year! TWe thought they were bumble bee hummers but my daughter informed us what they are. So much fun to watch and very hard to take a picture. They are here late September.

  • Pat Amerson says:

    Yes had my first Hummingbird Hawk Moth feeding on the butterfly bush and Jasmine. Took a slow motion video because I thought it was a baby Hummingbird, looked it up and you were right. It also was feeding on the Hummingbird feeder. Parrish Alabama

  • Danielle says:

    I love in extreme northwest Ohio. And just saw my first white lined Sphinx of my forty years of living. It was feeding on a dark purple petunia at dusk as I watered my flowers. It was way less intimidated than my hummers seem to be of me. It was only about a foot a way and didn’t mind the hose. Very cool experience in my opinion.

  • Estelle cobb says:

    Just seen one on a buddleia, we live in cheddar somerset. Absolutely beautiful and fascinating to watch

  • Sarah Warfield says:

    Just spotted one on my flowers in the garden – very beautiful

  • Carole says:

    Earlier this summer I saw something in the petunias that I didn’t recognize. About 2 inches long, all black except for 2 yellow stripes near the tapered bottom. Made me think of a humongous bee but had wings like a hummingbird with a reddish centre and hovered like a hummingbird. Could this have been a hummingbird moth in Goderich, Ontario?

  • Helen Peters says:

    Saw one this morning on verbena in Cornwall

  • Cindy McCathran says:

    I had two of them today, Sept. 15, 2020, on my butterfly bush. I was able to video them. 😊

  • Lee Poulton says:

    Had one in the garden this morning , September 15th am.. have video and photos.. greater London/Essex boarder..

  • Lee Poulton says:

    Yes , had one in the garden today.. September 15th..am… Have video and photos..!

  • Susan Spargo says:

    Hello, I live in West Virginia and I just encountered a hummingbird moth in my yard! So exciting to see! My first one! Susan S

  • Patti says:

    I saw one this evening in my tomato plants and took a short video – very cool little creature!

  • Karen Anderson says:

    I’m seeing alot of them now in southern Minnesota, usually at night. They seem to be attracted to my spider flowers or blazing star plants.💞

  • Lisa says:

    My husband and I saw one today at the Sun Inn pub, Hulverston on the Isle of Wight,on a beautiful sunny day as the sun was going down. Magical little creatures, darting about the flowers. A pleasure to see each year.

  • Pam says:

    First time seeing one today. Didn’t know what it was or whether to run or stand and watch. It was a fuzzy medium brown, about an inch long with two white stripes wrapping its butt. Strong little dickens too, it knocked some of the little flowers off the bush as it flew from flower to flower.

  • karen knights says:

    Just seen a hummingbird clearing moth in Lincolnshire

  • San Brown says:

    I wait for them every year. They love my phlox! We had some early cold nights around Labor Day and they disappeared already! I usually get to enjoy them in late August and most of September here in northern WI.

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