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. These facts will amaze!

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 moths that are sure to amaze!

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. They have a wide range in the US from Texas and Florida to Maine and Alaska.
  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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Deborah Tukua

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.

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Frances

Just had one of these on my balcony. Could t believe my eyes was convinced it was a hummingbird. Have some footage of it too, had to share with my family!

lyn

we had a humming bird moth in our garden around two weeks ago! got a great video and picture! we live in farnborough in kent, i was amazed by its beauty

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Dianne

We have them in SW Maine. They love the Bowman’s Root. Glad to know about the tomato hornworm connection though. Will have to be vigilant.

Sally Bush

Yes, we have them and I see them regularly. I live in NW Oklahoma in Woods county. I have a huge garden every year and the horned green caterpillars love my tomato plants. I pick the caterpillars off and relocate them. Sometimes I pick 15 – 20 caterpillars off a day!

Jessica Keith

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Last edited 1 day ago by Jessica Keith
Jessica Keith

Everybody can earn $500 Daily… Yes! you can earn more than you think by working online from home. I have been doing this job for like a ADt few weeks and my last week payment was exactly 2537 dollars..
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Last edited 1 day ago by Jessica Keith
Vickie

Yes I have seen it! At the State owned Pavilion, here in Madison West Virginia. There’s a flower bed in the center, and it’s loaded with flowers from summer, to fall. When my grandsons, and I hang out there, the hummingbird moths hang out around the flowers! I Love going there to watch them!

Ethel N.

I see them often here in S.W. Georgia. Usually in my flower beds.

Doug

Seen two this morning and one yesterday amazing creatures and a big Hawk moth last night when watering from norwich uk

Debra Smith

First time I saw a hummingbird moth I planted these moon flowers on my deck so neat to watch them

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Angie clow

I saw my first hummingbird moth feeding on clover flowers in the yard. At first I thought they were hummingbirds! There were 3 of them. Now that my flower patches have bloomed, they feed on those now. Had no clue what they were until I did an online search. I have a few photos I was able to catch of them…

Cynthia Michel

I just saw my first hummingbird moth ever and I am75 years old. I should have seen a lot of them last year because I had more tomato worms than I have ever had. At first I thought I was looking at a baby hummingbird.
My tomato worms got attacked by a type of wasp. There were a lot of little white things on them that looked like rice. I had to look them up.

JoAnne Beard

Hummingbird Moth

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StraySaver

This is the type we had in Iowa, where I grew up. None here in Seattle that I know of, but plenty of hummers all year ’round!

Arline Goeschel

I saw a couple last year. Silly me I thought they were baby hummers, although I’ve never seen what a baby hummer looks like

Alix

I was transfixed by this little thing yesterday in my garden in the Southwest of England. Beautiful.

Julie

The one I saw appeared to be grey and pink? Quite fascinating!!

royots

Is this a hummingbird moth? Does it have a name?

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Sandi Duncan

Hi Royots, We don’t think this one is a hummingbird moth. Perhaps someone else here could suggest what it is. Thanks for posting.

Royots

Is this a hummingbird moth? If so what is it called?

Royots

Is this a hummingbird? If so is there a name?

Paul S

Had some visit last year. Very cool!

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Dawn

Is this a hummingbird moth?

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Sandi Duncan

Hi Dawn,

Sorry but we really can’t make out anything in the image. There are plenty of pictures here from our readers and in the article. Maybe you can compare?

Dana Lehman

Saw a hummingbird moth in Michigan for the first time ever.

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Claire Limrick

Watering the garden last night around 9pm and saw one for the first time. Then I realised I was surrounded by them, at least 20 flying around my house and many more flying around my neighbours roof tops. Hope to see them again this evening, beautiful creatures

Kim

First one I’ve ever seen

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Sandi Duncan

Nice shot Kim. Thanks for sharing.

John

67 years old and just watched my first hummingbird moth feeding on my red valerian amazing to see

Kim

Aren’t they fascinating !

Olive

Thinking I hadn’t seen a hummingbird moth for a few years. Just watering my garden in Oxfordshire got to the lavender and there it was a hummingbird hawk moth feeding off the lavender. Of course it flew off when I got near to it. Made my day.

Sue Allstack

Hummingbird Hawkmoth – just seen one my gosh,amazing. It was flitting around my pots but was obviously not impressed as it soon zoomed off. Ingleton N Yorks.

Sue Allstack

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Ang

Just seen one feeding on Red Valerian in the garden. Rochdale England!!! Wow!

Mark

I saw two of these last night around 8:45 feasting on my columbines. It was past dusk but not quite dark just outside of Denver, Colorado.

Farmers' Almanac

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing, Mark!

Stephen Henderson

First time seeing one. Bryn y Baal North East Wales.

Steve

I saw one midday about three days ago, I didn’t know these things even existed.
It moved so fast that it was not observable on my phone video.
Steve
Oxford, England

May

Just got our first glimpse of one feeding at dusk around 9pm on petunias off our back balcony in centeral Illinois! Didnt know what it was.. looked it up and found this page! I guess we’re not the only ones to see this for the first time in our life either. And We’re 31 & 43! Very cool & interesting!

Farmers' Almanac

Hi May,
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Rene K

I saw one last night in Redford, Michigan. It was dusk and feeding on some fragrant flower hedges. I took video because I had no idea what I was looking at.

Gina

On holiday in Croatia and have seen loads of them flocking round lavendar plants, never encountered them before – fascinating!

Last edited 11 days ago by Gina
sandy mcqueen

Just saw one near Raleigh NC on my butterfly bushes. First one for me!!

Margaret Porter

I live in Austria and this week for the first time saw two hummingbird moths on my lavender plants. I am a little concerned as I have four tomato plants in pots on my open porch. They are beautiful.

T Crick

I’m in New Hampshire just north of Concord and I saw a clear wing hummingbird moth today mid-day. First time! Does the clear wing hummingbird moth also have a caterpillar stage that is damaging to the garden?

Sandi Duncan

Hi,
They are of the same family so most likely. However, in their moth stage these insects are great pollinators. (The good with the bad.)

Dawn jones

Just seen a hummingbird moth in Oswestry Shropshire, UK. feeding on red valerian. Never seen one before.

Sandi Duncan

Hi Dawn,
Thanks for the report from the UK. 🙂

Nicky

We just spotted on in Temse, Belgium! On the lavender. But a peacock butterfly chased it away.. twice..

Sandi Duncan

Hi Nicky,
Belgium! Wow! Thanks for stopping by here :).

Claire

I have just seen a hummingbird hawkmoth in Warfield, Berkshire in the UK on my Lavender. Beautiful!

Sandi Duncan

They certainly are unusual and different. Thanks for commenting Claire.

Misty

I was gathering mulberries and found the beautiful little guy in the fruit on the ground. I gently cupped him in my hands to show my fiance who was across the yard. When I let him go, he went back to the mulberries. I had seen a couple before in my honeysuckle bush but this was the closest encounter. Soo darn cute!

Misty

Forgot to say I’m in Wichita Kansas and it’s been 90°-103° here when I saw them.

TXRonin

I just found one visiting my Lantana in the front yard and it was just so lovely! I called my husband out to see it. Denton, Texas

Tom McFadzen

I have a few of them, two different ones. One of them is huge. Alberta, Jarvie

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Ray

1st time seeing one in Conneaut, Oh

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Janice

We spotted some in Canton Georgia beautiful little creatures

Amanda

We see them here in Nova Scitia Canada!

Chuck

We have 2. One is larger than the other and one looks like the sphinx moth. Colorado Springs. We have video of it.

David Fowler

Spotted one today feeding off geraniums. Have not seen one before.

Tammie

I have about 10 flying around my flowers all day! I fear for my vegetable garden… so cool to watch

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