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!
10 Fascinating Facts About The Hummingbird Moth
- Hummingbird moth is the common name used for the numerous types of hummingbird moth species which include: Hummingbird Hawk-Moth, Sphinx moth, Common Clearwing Hummingbird moth, Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird moth, Five-Spotted Hawkmoth, and White-Lined Sphinx.
- Just like the hummingbird, the hummingbird moth’s buzzing, humming sound is created by its rapid wing movement.
- The next time you spot a tomato hornworm (also known as a tobacco hornworm) caterpillar munching on your tomato plants, you are looking at a future hummingbird moth. This caterpillar is named for its hornlike appendages.
- The moths featured in the 1991 film, The Silence of the Lambs were “death’s-head hawk” moths, are a type of this moth. According to IMDb, the moths were treated like celebrities. “They were flown first class… and had special living quarters.”
- 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.
- Instead of a beak, this moth 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.
- 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.
- 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 hummingbird moth has clear wings.
- The hummingbird moth can be found not only in North America, but in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
- 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.
- Hummingbird 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!