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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

Hummingbirds - Hummingbird hawk-moth
hummingbird moth on the flower
  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 herbal baths appears in the 2021 Farmers' Almanac.

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Teresa Wall

Teresa Wall lives in northwest Louisiana. Saw something hovering around a hanging basket, had to do a double take
Dawn on the back porch.

Teresa Wall

My first sighting

Vicky Westfall

I live in WV. they come around at the end of July or first of August, had never seen one until I planted Butterfly bushes, had to look it up, amazing little creatures!

Traci Schaefer

I saw one this evening for the very first time as I was watering the flowers. I thought it was a bee at first, then as I looked closer, I was amazed. I watched it for about 2 minutes, then realized I need to get my camera, of course I was too late. OMG I hope it comes back. It was awesome.
I am in Northeastern Ohio. It was just before 7pm EST. IDK which type it was, I saw the long tongue like a hummingbird beak and I believe it had some reddish color. it moved quickly and I was so shocked to see it, it was incredible.

W. Wisener

I just saw one on my butterfly bush. This is the first time I ever saw one. Had no idea what it was (or such a thing even existed).

W. Wisener

I’m in Southwestern Virginia

Patricia Curesky

Spotted on a butterfly bush in Chester, New York

Bailey

Two on lantanas in Southwestern VA

Dawn

Southbridge MA

Dawn

I just saw one on my butterfly bush! I’m in Massachusetts.

GWV

Correction to location- is EASTOVER, NC

GWV

See 4 to 5 on my Butterfly bushes daily for past 2 weeks in Eastbourne, NC

Margaret Terhorst

Saw one the last three days in Acme PA dining on purple petunias.

Eric Hensel

Saw this one today, wow! Charlton, Massachusetts.

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karen ryan

They do like the bee balm! Great pic.

Chris Cochran

We found this guy at a Walmart in western PA as we were condensing the sidewalk flowers.

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Susan Higgins

Wonderful shot, Chris! Thanks for sharing.

karen ryan

They blend so well. great shot.

Vickie

I see one every year in my yard in No. Attleboro, Ma

Linda

Saw one today on my butterfly bush in Salem mass. Never saw anything like it before. Can’t attach my video

Susan Higgins

We’re glad you got to see one of these amazing creatures, Linda!

M. Flynn

Saw one of these today in North Dartmouth MA. Have lived here over 20 years and this is a first for me. Exciting!

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Tomj

Saw this one the other da

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Eric Helmick

Saw one today in Cabins WV .Frst time I have ever seen one

Rose Shearer

Caught a picture of this one

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Rose Shearer

Never seen one till this year, now I see everyday on my butterfly bush’s

Randy

Had never seen one until yesterday.

Monica Buege

Here’s one more!!!

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Monica Buege

We got a couple good pictures of them!!

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Donna poch

Saw two yesterday 40 miles south of Chicago. Hadn’t seen any for a few years…

Monica Buege

We have been very fortunate to have these awesome creatures visiting us every year for a few years now..we live in silver Lake Wisconsin..they are very amazing to watch!!!!

Amber Deberry

Seen one for the first time today July 20. I am on southern end of Preston County in West Virginia. South of a town called Rowlesburg.

Deb C

Just saw one in Central NY; what a treat – and yes, we did do a double-take since it was our first sighting ever!

Cheryl

July 2021. I saw my first hummingbird Clearwing moth today feeding from some wild monardia flowers growing beside a pond in Burlington Ontario.

Jerry

I saw one in my garden in the back yard. I was positive it would kill me and lay it’s eggs in my corpse.

Susan Higgins

Hahaha Jerry, it’s a moth, not Mothra! haha!

Nikita

We have been blessed by God to have these beautiful creatures live with us in our Sugar Grove Ohio gardens for over 25 years. Their antics and behaviors have been a source of delight and awe. I took one to my wonderful mother n law. In a huge bouquet of honeysuckle trumpet vine and lilacs .. this little moth gobbled and drew nectar from these flowers as I took the bouquet to my mother n law so she could see this merry winged creature close up. In all her 74 years she had never even heard of this incredible little flier.
I love my mother n law dearly and I am so glad I was able to show her such a beautiful little imposter as these Hummingbird moths. They are truly a gift and a blessing. We have many many many of these little creatures here at our home and I haven’t lost a tomato plant to these little guys yet. And we have more tomatoes and vegetables than we can eat. We dont mind sharing our bounty with Gods little creation.
If not for God we wouldn’t have these little beautiful creatures or the bounty.

karen ryan

I used to live in Grizzly Flat, Ca. where I saw my first one. the next year she brought in her babies to feed on my purple bee balm. I moved to Plains, Mt. and to my great and joyous surprise I saw one briefly in my first year. Now it is my second year and have been lucky enough to spot another one. This one was in my red and white petunias. Tried to get a pic but it was windy and he or she was moving around to much. I shall patiently wait for another opportunity. Thank you God for your wonderful creature in my garden.

Michele

Just had mine come to Fairborn Ohio. I hang a basket of petunias in the same spot brings them back yearly. Fascinating!

Linda Logan

Just saw one in Johnsburg, Illinois. We were in awe, had to look it up right away to see what it was. It was beautiful and was feeding on my butterfly bush one foot away from me!!❤

Chris Thorn

Just seen one in Croatia. Beautiful little thing )

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Jo Thomas

I am 68 and saw this amazing creature on my cone flowers today. I thought it was one of those scary hornets, or killer bee, cause I had no idea but knew it was very different that the bees all around it collecting nectar. It was amazing that it was more distant than the other bees and looked like it almost had what looked like feathers on its tail. Very fascinating to watch.

Susan Higgins

Thanks for sharing. They are fascinating, aren’t they!

Marie

Saw one for the first time in my 59 trips around the sun.

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Emma

Saw one on the same flower in the comments below! Petunia?

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Emma

Only seen these once before—several years ago in Henderson, NV.
However, they have been everywhere today in Flagstaff, AZ (maybe they have been enjoying the monsoons?)
Awesome little guys.

Michaela Kelly

I had one at the butterfly bush today here in Lisbon, CT. I was so intrigued I had to research it.

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Rob Hansen

Hugo MN – had one in our flowers July 17, 2021. Had no idea what it was but Google identified it as a Hummingbird Hawk Moth, super cool and hope I see more

Last edited 4 days ago by Rob Hansen
Renee Sanders

I saw this feeding on my Petunias. I truly thought it was a baby hummingbird. Wasn’t aware of these moths. After reading the description and looking at the pictures I am sure it was a moth. Will be watching my tomatoes.

JAMES HICK

I captured one on my camera. fairly clear wings. I’ve seen plenty of the darker ones. They do make a noise a they fly around my flowers. I had never seen the clear ones. I had to take a picture then crop it.

Susan H Izzo

Quakertown, PA. There was a pollinators party in the bee balm last night and 3-5 of these were there. They are fascinating to watch. I’m disappointed to learn they grow from horn worms!! I’ll keep a look out in the tomatoes

Barb Plummer

I saw one yesterday on Anakeesta mountain in Gatlinburg TN. I didn’t know what it was but I’m so glad I found your article. I didn’t get a great picture because it was so fast!
I can’t attach the picture but he was pretty. But I can tell you he had clear wings because I could see the petunia color through them.

Last edited 5 days ago by Barb Plummer
Kathie Hegedus

Saw one yesterday on my impatience….didnt know what it was until a friend posted a picture. We got to watch it closely as it fluttered from flower to flower..so pretty.
Pittsburgh, PA

Dawn Reeckmann

I think I found one in my driveway. I’m not sure what it is but it does look like it.

Ed Burger

Just saw one for my first time, also thought it was a mini hummingbird. We live in Chester Co., Pa
Was a great trill witnessed by myself and son

Becky Leskovec

Saw this one in Northern Illinois.

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Susan Higgins

Wow, fantastic photo, Becky!

fred frazier

I see them all the time here in southwest VA. I saw one yesterday and today.

Kim

I just saw it for the first time in my garden here in Las Vegas at night around 8pm.I had to do a double take. I thought it was a tiny hummingbird. So I googled it and found this article. Thank you, now I know what it is.

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