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

Have You Seen A Hummingbird Moth? Here Are 10 Fascinating Factsimage preview

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!

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. Her article on salt-based home remedies appears in the 2020 Farmers' Almanac.

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Darren Douglas
2 days ago

I live in the Blue mountains In Australia. I have Hummingbird hawk moths in my garden same time every evening. I have video footage.

Tracey Mundy
Tracey Mundy
6 days ago

I have several here at dusk past week or so on the South Coast of NSW Never seen them before Their catapilars are eating all my tomatoes It’s total destruction

Cindy
Cindy
14 days ago

I have one fly into my back room today. We thought that it was a hummingbird and I called my daughter out and she was like no that’s a moth mom. No sooner did apply back out the door we were looking it up online and sure enough it was a hummingbird moth. I have never seen something so cool in my life. Apparently it’s supposed to bring good luck. Sure hope that’s true. 🙂

Sandi Duncan
Sandi Duncan
11 days ago
Reply to  Cindy

We hope so too! Thanks for sharing Cindy.

Kathy Williams
Kathy Williams
21 days ago

We discovered these creatures recently hovering at dusk over the plumbago bushes. We thought they were humming birds at first but have learned that hummingbirds do not live in Hawaii- in fact they are outlawed in Hawaii. While they are mesmerizing I am curious to see what their catepillars are up to in our backyard !

Carol
Carol
26 days ago

I’ve just come in after watching two hummingbird moths feeding on our Stephanotis flowers, in Castle Hill, Sydney. I’ve never seen them before. They appeared to be attracted to the outside light I’d switched on. Fascinating.

Brett Morgan
26 days ago

we found several at Watsons Creek western New south Wales Australia no -one locally had seen before

Nikki Eksteen
Nikki Eksteen
30 days ago

I have seen a few of these beauties in my garden in South Africa

Peter
Peter
1 month ago

I seen two today one larger one looked black& a very small one of green color We live in Ajijic Mexico been here 12 years& It is Christmas day what a gift watching them .

Mimi
Mimi
1 month ago

We have been seeing dark brown hummingbird moths on our male papaya plant which has been producing lots of blossoms since last spring. My son insisted that they are moths and I insisted they were hummingbirds because of the buzzing sound and the long drinking tube that makes them looking a lot like a hummingbird. They seem to large to be insects and my son was clearly right!

Teri K
Teri K
1 month ago

I tried to attach a picture, but apparently this doesn’t work

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
1 month ago
Reply to  Teri K

Hi Teri, you can share it on our Facebook page!

Teri K
Teri K
1 month ago

Saw one today in Clearwater Fl.. I’ve never seen one before. So beautiful

Allen
Allen
2 months ago

On the 10th of November just before sunset, in SW FL, I saw from a distance what I thought was a hummingbird.
I was so excited I went out and bought a feeder.
Then the next evening it came again.
Now I guess I’m buying a tomato plant.
Still very happy.

Allen
Allen
2 months ago
Reply to  Allen

It was not until today when talking about it I zoomed in on my slow mo and saw that it was a moth not a bird.

Allen Hall
Allen Hall
2 months ago

I have lived in the same house in Atlantic Beach, FL for 35 years and had never seen a hummingbird moth until about a month ago.
Now they are buzzing all over the place, mostly in the early evening hours. They seem especially fond of my wife’s prized Pentax and leave them practically destroyed. How do we discourage them from doing this?

Ray
Ray
2 months ago

I live in Maryborough Queensland Australia
Out in the garden mid morning in September when I heard it and saw it So astounded forgot to take the photo

Cheryl boone
Cheryl boone
2 months ago

Have seen a few feeding on blue plumbago, hibiscus and another plant we have with purple blooms. They look like chubby hummingbirds to me! Shoreacres, Texas. 30 miles north of Galveston

dorotheasuemike
dorotheasuemike
2 months ago

Saw a moth hummingbird tonight Almond NC.Just at dust it liked my tie dyed shirt and sons tiedied too. We went for a walk awhile back and saw a huge catipiller . Was green .we watched him cross the road. He just came back to say thank you for helping me cross the road. Isn’t nature wonderful.

Jim Balmer
Jim Balmer
2 months ago

I saw a pair busily working the Lantana next to my carport in Welsh, Louisiana. They appeared just before dusk. First time I have seen any, so I’m feeling very blessed to have seen two at the same time.

Carol Doughty
Carol Doughty
2 months ago

Saw one last night, here in Lakeway, TX. Wish I could upload the slo-mo video.

Penny
Penny
2 months ago

Just seen a hummingbird moth on my fuschia bush. Really busy collecting nectar port talbot
S Wales.

Lisa
Lisa
2 months ago

I saw my first one today in my garden in Liszo, western Hungary – it was amazing!!!

R Weaver
R Weaver
3 months ago

Just saw one in Washington Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Tammy Seel
Tammy Seel
3 months ago

Had the pleasure of seeing my first Hummingbird Moth this evening. I am located in Central Florida. It spent about thirty minutes sipping from my pentas. Fascinating to read about. It’s coloring leads me to believe it was once a Tobacco Horned Worm. 🙂

Ginget
Ginget
3 months ago

I would like to send you a short video of done it shaped lights that have been flying in large groups on my front porch? Are they moths?

Anita Knowles
Anita Knowles
3 months ago

Took video of this amazing insect feeding on my “Lemon Queen” sunflowers. Wolverhampton UK.

Sue
Sue
3 months ago

Gardening on 16 October 2020, noticed this lone insect hovering and feeding on a perennial salvia, exactly like a hummingbird does, it seemed, going from flower to flower. Identified as a hummingbird hawk moth, a visitor to Britain. It soon flew off. It’s wings were a blur in flight. I am in the West Midlands of GB. I think it is the first time I have seen one. It was about 4 p.m. BST.

Julie Daniels
Julie Daniels
3 months ago

Just walked out this morning to what was about a dozen of these all over my bush
I thought my night blooming jasmine was a hummingbird Nest!
Ive never seen them before But I have a spectacular bloom on the Bush
I’m in central florida it’s October 17 2020

Nancy
Nancy
3 months ago

I saw one today for the first time ever. It was feeding on a knock-out rose. Luckily, I had my iPhone & I took a few pictures. I’ve never even heard of them. I’ve just spent two hours looking at pics of bees, wasps, hornets and finally found it when I googled “Insect with very long, thick body with fuzzy black band on tail that flies fast & drinks nectar “.
I live in Arlington, VA

Barbara johns
Barbara johns
3 months ago

We had one yesterday afternoon feeding on the marigolds of all things. Got a good pic plus video.

Jackie Massie
Jackie Massie
3 months ago

We have had Hummingbird Moths every summer for 5 or 6 years. I grow impatiens and petunias, which they seem to like. I see them mostly in July and August. I live in Nelson County, Virginia.

Terence Langridge
Terence Langridge
3 months ago

Had one visit us for a number of days ,managed a few photos ,great to finally see one in South Lincolnshire

Kathleen
Kathleen
3 months ago

Have a sphinx moth feeding on my Pentas every evening. This afternoon I found it’s caterpillar munching on the Pentas completely defoliating one plant. Well worth the sacrifice of leaves to eventually see the Sphinx moth flying. Wish we could post the pics and video of it flying on here.

Alun phillips
Alun phillips
3 months ago

Saw one this morning on 11th october hovering and feeding from a salvia plant in our garden, never seen one before. I got very close to it to take a photo.

Teresa St. John
Teresa St. John
3 months ago

Saw 2 last night on my Rhododendron bush that is blooming.

Rosemary Morton-Stewart
Rosemary Morton-Stewart
3 months ago

We have one in our garden in Wiltshire, it had been visiting for a few months, amazing to watch

Donna
Donna
3 months ago

It was exciting to see, never heard of it, and snapped a quick photo to look it up so the discussion was moth from hubby and baby hummingbird from me, never thought it would actually be named a hummingbird moth! We are in southeast Texas.

Renee Sharp
Renee Sharp
3 months ago

I think I just saw a couple hovering around a bush with little flowers. I kept looking at them because they look like baby hummers. And they were flying super fast. Its October here in GA and my birds have left. Fascinating!

Jaya
Jaya
3 months ago
Reply to  Renee Sharp

I just got video of one on a flower pot in the middle of Atlantic Station, ATL! Wild

Kelly
Kelly
3 months ago

I live in a tiny little NE FL town and keep telling people I have these two moths flying around and drinking nectar like a humming bird, they love my fragrant Ginger Flowers. I took a couple pictures of them however they are kinda blurry as they dart around my flowers. So cool for sure.

Jenny
Jenny
3 months ago

We’ve just seen a humming bird moth for the first time, here in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. Wow, amazing features, flitting from flower to flower at super speed, then zoom, gone! Made our day!

Christopher Saley
Christopher Saley
3 months ago

Just got a fresh video of 3 hummingbird moths last night hanging around my bottlebrush tree.

Cindy Newbold
Cindy Newbold
3 months ago

I live in Florida and for the last couple of years I thought I was witnessing baby hummingbirds, but I’m pretty sure they are moths. I’ve seen two different typed, one brownish and yesterdayI saw a red one.

Deborah W.
Deborah W.
3 months ago

I just saw one on one of my flowering plants here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast minutes ago! I had to look it up!

Robert Fenton
Robert Fenton
3 months ago

Just seen one in my garden Trowbridge UK, amazing!

April
April
3 months ago

Yes I have two here. I have video and pictures. Even held one in my hand, after I saved it from drowning, caught under my pool net.

Kim Johnson
Kim Johnson
3 months ago

Had several of these on my penta, petunia and lantana garden last year. Thought, at first, they were little hummers bc I had a HB feeder out. Somehow found out about hummingbird moths online. This year, just found a green, horned caterpillar on a bush in the backyard. Ahsooo! These become HB moths! Only have lantana left this year. Better get some penta in fast!

Lynn Lambert
Lynn Lambert
3 months ago

We are in the Florida panhandle and have been visited by several of these delightful creatures for the last few months. At first I questioned if they were miniature hummers. After googling I discovered this awesome insect! They come just at dawn and dusk. After reading many comments I wonder if they are attracted to purple flowers. My huge pot of periwinkle delights them.

Sunday War
Sunday War
3 months ago

I am from the USA, where I lived most of my life. l had never seen or heard of these creatures until I moved to Barcelona, Spain. I recently rented an apartment facing the Med sea on the 7th floor. We have a large terrace with flower beds. These creatures started coming around a few months ago. There are a few that come and go all day long for the flowers in the bushes growing in our flower beds. I can get quite close to observe them and take pictures. At first I thought they were the tinyest hummingbirds I had ever seen.

kay scheulin
kay scheulin
3 months ago

I just saw one on my Zinnias and came to look up what it was. It’s so lovely.

lynda phegley
lynda phegley
3 months ago

We have them every year and look forward seeing them they mostly come early morning. I Love them when I get abit close to them seems they get closer to me It’s amazing they are cool little creatures

Eliska jane
Eliska jane
3 months ago

My grandson and I had the unique pleasure of watching a Hummingbird moth enjoy our butterfly bushes last week. It was so fascinating and looked “other worldly” in it’s brown coat.

Mark Hugen
Mark Hugen
3 months ago

Just had a hummingbird moth feed on one of our plants on the deck extraordinary.