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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Jacqui

Saw one yesterday in the UK, Kent area. So beautiful by the time I got my phone out to take a video it was gone.

Sandi Duncan

Hi Jacqui,
Thanks for sharing your observation. Hopefully you’ll see it again and have time to take a picture.

Rochford

First time I saw it, I thought it was a hummingbird. It seems to like the lilies in the Black Hills of SouthDakota

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Warren Palmieri

Saw one earlier this year when the lilies were blooming. Was just sitting outside on the deck enjoying the cooler breeze and noticed one buzzing around the hanging baskets sipping from the petunias. The resident hummingbirds weren’t too pleased, but left him alone and went back to guard their feeders! ☺️

Julia Yarbrough

I have seen several at my butterfly bush ( budleia) love them, they’re such neat little bugs 😉…

Last edited 15 hours ago by Julia Yarbrough
Janet

Saw my first Hummingbird moth. Mesmerizing

Gloria Lundy McSwegin

I have had this busy moth for years. I have a pic from early 2000. This year I did not take picture. I was weeding and watched it for a while. WV

Gloria Lundy McSwegin

Every year the first time I thought it was a bee. They seem to be very busy. Wv.
I have a picture from several years back. This year also no picture as I was weeding my garden Wv.

Diane

I just had a hummingbird moth in my petunias in Fox Harbour Nova Scotia Canada

Michaela Kearsey

I have seen this moth for the first time today, I honestly thought I had seen a hummingbird and my husband was about ready to cart me off somewhere as he thought I had lost it!! But I got a lovely video 🥰 unfortunately it won’t let me upload and the wings move too quickly to get a still from the video

Johan

Played tricks on our eyes !! First time ever seen for us here in Barrie, Ontario.
Very cool !

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Dave Barker

Just seen one in my garden in Hove, near Brighton in the UK

Holly

We have had 3 Hummingbird Moths visit us daily for 31/2 weeks now. They come late afternoon and then again in the evening between 7:30 and 8:30 off and on. They dont seem to mind us on the deck or when we are using our fire pit. They seem to love our purple petunias. We saw our first one 2 years ago around the end of July while visiting a farm to pick blueberries. At that time we did a double take as unsure what we saw.. LOL. Definitely a unique creature for sure. Hampden Maine.

Sandi Duncan

Nature – it’s wonderful to sit back and observe isn’t it? thanks for commenting.

Dawn

I saw one at dusk hovering around and within my butterfly bush.

Donna

I’ve lived and gardened in Florida my entire life. I have not been successful in attracting hummingbirds but I saw the hummingbird moth for the first time today and I did do a double take. Fascinating insect!

Debbie

Saw what looked like a hummingbird (but couldn’t be!) this morning on my lavender plants in Buckinghamshire, UK. Realise now it was a hummingbird moth. Never seen one before and surprised to see a moth in daylight at 8.30am

Lori Thede

I was sitting on my porch and had one fly close to my face. After that it went to my flowering hostas . What a stunning creature. It took me off guard, I never saw one before and had to Google it. I live in Newton Wisconsin. I hope to see it again.

Sue Ann Eckes

I saw one tonight in my garden. I get to see them about once a year. I’m in the Denver Colorado area!

Anne Kimball

Saw two or three in my petunias at dusk last night. Couldn’t decide if it was a moth or a small hummingbird until I saw this site. Hancock, Maine

Mark Barber

First time I have ever seen them were today on my butterfly bushes, thought they were baby hummingbirds until I did some research. Which led me here.

Greg Farmer

Had two last night in Mobile Al. They show up late summer every year, look forward to seeing them while they feed on my Gingers !!

Tremble

I think I had three flying/ buzzing around the butterfly bush.

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Eric

Here’s one buzzing my flowers in Jefferson Maine
https://photos.app.goo.gl/FXBQPrTjUd6ciRNu5

Leyetta

Saw one this morning on my bee balm. This was there first time I’ve ever seen one. Was fascinating to sit and watch it visit all my flowers. I’m in northern Indiana just outside Chicago.

Madeline Catania

I saw some yesterday in CT on a butterfly bush.

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Melissa

We have them all over our yard in the black hills sd. They love my 4 o’clock

Eric

I’ve seen a couple of these moths in Poland, Maine. Now I know where the green horned caterpillars come from that eat my tomato plants.

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Nancy

I am in Gray, ME and have seen one at my petunias for several days now. I’m glad to know what it is!

Gary

I just saw one for the first time feeding on bee balm. So much like a hummingbird. An amazing sight for sure. I’m in eastern Ontario.

Kathy

I see hummingbird moths every summer feasting on my butterfly bush blooms here in the thumb of Michigan’s lower peninsula. This evening, I spotted one at rest tucked in next to my walk-in garage door. This is the first time I ever had a close-up look at one!

Scott

Saw for the first time tonight in NH thought it was a baby hummingbird 🙂

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Bill Anderson

Feeding on buddliah,
Scunthorpe, England

Lynne

Hummingbird Hawk Moth was seen on the 22nd June 2022 in Kirby Cross Essex feeding on lavender. Such a beautiful sight.

Nancy

My husband and I have seen one coming to the hanging baskets at dusk.
Western New York

Christine Zuzak

I have a hummingbird moth hanging around my butterfly bushes. It is so amusing to watch him flitter all around gathering nectar.

Pat Adolph

Just saw one today for the very first time (Grey Bruce County, Ontario CANADA) drawing nectar from the purple flowers of my spider plants
Seemed to have a pale green stripe on the body, and clear wings
Very exciting to see!!!

Linda

This was on one of my butterfly bushes.

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Linda

I seen one today. I love watching them!

Michelle

I saw my first one tonight in NH. AMAZING site!

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Linda

That is a beautiful hummingbird moth. I’d love to see one that looked like this. What area do you live in?

Ronnie Franklin

This moth frequented my wife’s flower garden on a daily basis in 2020. We moved to a different part of Shelby County and haven’t seen one since

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Sandi Duncan

Hi Ronnie,
Hope they find your new house soon!

Deejay

I just saw one here in Madison, Wisconsin. I saw one a couple years ago. Pleased to see another one. Very fascinating.

Last edited 14 days ago by Deejay
Stacey

Just seen one for the first time (in Central Illinois). At first, I thought it was a large bug, but someone told me it was a baby hummingbird. After showing the video to my daughter, she realized it had antennas and was actually a hummingbird moth. I didn’t know those existed. So much fun to watch!

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Michael young

I just saw one for the first time, what caught more of my attention I realized it had antennas unlike the hummingbird this is a remarkable creature I never knew existed

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Tom Wayne

When we lived in Kendall, NY we had these guys all of the time. They were actually very aggressive

Anne Megan

Yes! We saw one tonight for the first time on our talk phlox. We thought it was a baby hummingbird at first.

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Dale summers

I have dozens in my yard. I have 2 butterfly bushes & these things are on em all day every day & just found out that they destroy plantlife,tomato plants & the like. A beautiful bug,but very bad for plants. A necter sucking vampiric plant killing crawdad looking parasite.

Partick

Saw my first hummingbird moth this morning, I showed pic to wife who said it was a moth, very colorful!

Butch

Saw one yesterday here in Charlotte, NC

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Molly Martin

I have been seeing one feeding on my giant white spider Liley just of my front porch. They are remarkable.

Wilma Powell

We enjoy watching the hummingbird moths feed on our night blooming jasmine. Really fun watching them!

Melissa Huber

I wish I could post the video, but I have a beautiful dark black and white hummingbird moth hanging out in my flower garden!

Sandi Duncan

Hi Melissa,

They are a sight to see aren’t they? Thanks for commenting.

Pippa Gray

Charantee,France. One on our lavendar

Sandi Duncan

Hi Pippa,

Thanks for visiting our site all the way from France! Enjoy your summer!

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