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. It’s one of the most fascinating insects (yes, it’s an insect!) to roam the garden. Here are 10 facts that will amaze you:

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) 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.

3) 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.”

4) 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.

5) 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.

6) 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.

7) 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.

8) 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.

9) 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.

10) 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.

Join The Discussion!

Have you seen one of these fascinating creatures?

Where are you based? Please share your photos with us here.

Tell us about your experience 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 Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.

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Denise

Hello everyone I’m very happy to say I have the pleasure of a hummingbird moth, I believe my cat chased it into the house, it turned up a few times, I never understood how beautiful the humming bird moth was until I went near it I lightly touched it, then to my amazement, fluttering about me I saw what looked like the tiniest hummingbird so beautiful, just like a fairy, I feel in love with its beautiful appearance, I gave it a little honey with water, it went out of sight, until the evening when i noticed my cat bothering it again, i placed it in a bowl with flowers and leaves, it’s just had breakfast honey and water, and is avery happy buzzing like a bee. I have put it in a room with my birds, for safety.

Beth

I saw a hummingbird moth last night in Philo, Illinois. Not a great photo below as it was dusk. It was feeding on flowering tobacco.

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Heather

Oh that is wonderful! We love to see our readers Hummingbird moth photos! Thank you for sharing!

Janice

Had one of these in our garden today, Norfolk UK, had no idea what it was till I found this page

Heather

We are happy to hear you were able to welcome a new little visitor to your garden!

Phil Reilly

Just seen a hummingbird moth at dusk feeding on nicotiana, in the highlands of Scotland, it was huge

T. Plante

I have several visit my Lantana every evening. It’s the 2nd yr. I’ve seen them in my GA garden. Tonight I was putting a bouquet of cut flowers together on my back patio & as I’m holding the bouquet one flew up & started feeding on the Zinnias & Ironweed I’d picked. They’re super quick…I could feel a breeze across my hand from his little wings going.

Penny

24th of September 2023 Shirley Surrey, UK . I’ve just seen this amazing hummingbird moth . Absolutely beautiful it was getting nectar out of of a busy Lizzy ..

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Dot Cote-Houghton

Another view in Strasbourg.

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Heather

These are so lovely! Thank you for sharing these with us!

Dot Cote-Houghton

My zinnias in Strasbourg, France.

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Dawn Gann

I have these all the time. This is the biggest one yet! We live in Crescent Valley Nevada.

Fall leaves against a water background.
Heather

Wow! That is a big one! Thank you for sharing.

bonnie

today! atlantic beach ny

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Heather

We love these! Thank you for sharing this one – it’s great!

Sharon in Eagle Point, Oregon

While watering potted plants in my yard July this year I first spotted this fascinating little creature buzzing around my phlox flowers. Thinking it was a different variety of hummingbird until I realized what I thought was a beak was really its tongue. The next evening I sat next to my phlox and sure enough not one but 2 appeared , I was hooked, every night I waited, every night one came to feed off my potted phlox.
So fascinating!!!

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John T.

I’ve lived in California since the 50’s. We’ve always had tomato hornworms (Sphinx moths), but this is the first year that I’ve seen them feeding.
They are feeding on society garlic flowers. Downey, CA.

Stephanie

Ridgecrest, CA. – Tons on my front yard tree last night.

Stephanie

Saw tons of these in my front yard tree last night. We also thought they were Baby Hummingbirds, until I researched them this morning. I don’t have a pic, but they flew really close to my head and they fly extremely quick.

Em K

Saw this cute little guy and had no idea what it was until I accidentally came across this article. Picture taken in my back garden on the 2nd July 2022 in Adderbury, Oxfordshire, South East England

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Heather

That sure is a cutie! Thank you for sharing with us here!

Em K

We saw this cute little guy on the 2nd July 2022 and had no idea what it was until I accidentally came across this article. I am in Adderbury, Oxfordshire, South East England

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annie

Had my first visit at dusk tonite., West Slope Sierras Northern California, he zipped about the nasty plants, & geraniums, I thought I was having visions, ha ha, thanks for your info on them, here 21 years and never seen here before.

Melissa

This little guy loves Pepsi. He showed up about 2 weeks ago. I thought it was a baby hummingbird until my step daughter told me it was an insect instead. He shows up every day to get his Pepsi fix in Jasper, Florida

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Heather

Oh wow! We know which side this moth is on for the cola wars!

Katie Hancock

Just saw one on my Texas sage. Got a video but too fast for a picture

myra

I have a hummingbird maybe hummingbird moth in my garden. it is not afraid of me. the stripes on its back go with the body, not around the body. it is black, gray, and white. do you know what this is?

Emily

Just saw one on my petunias- just after dusk in central MN- hard to get good picture but it’s right in the middle….

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Stacey Wiercinski

I’ve had one the last few days, and I’ve been seeing them every year at this time for the last 2 years. I love watching them! Hurley, WI

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Heather

Gorgeous flowers – and a great shot of the hummingbird moth!

Deb

This baby just showed up today! We had an adult last year on the same bush, but I can’t locate the picture. They are fascinating to see!

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Lisa

I saw a couple not too long ago. We are in central Oklahoma US.

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Kat

I just saw one at my yellow wave petunias bopping from one bloom to the next so cool and fast. I live in British Columbia west coast

Bob Rodgers

We had 5 of them in our 2 planters here in Escanaba MI a couple of days ago.

Karen

I just saw one today in Tucson!!

Andrea

I have one that visits my butterfly bush. I live in Central New York.

Stephen Donnison

Hi we spotted our first Hawk Humming bird moth at 7am September 5th in our garden feeding on our hanging basket flowers. We live in Stockton on Tees in the northeast of England.

Willie Micene

Saw this one in the Lake Tahoe area of CA…crazy

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Margee

Found one on my tomato plant. Did not kill it but am going to see if he will cocoon and turn into the moth♥️. Took it off the plant because he was eating it all very quickly and put it in a container with plenty for it to eat. We shall see🙂

Kate

I just saw my first one in Elkhorn California this morning on pink rose geranium flowers.

Jim McCormick

Observed September 1, 2023 at dusk in Helena, Montana.

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Karen

UK. Hummingbird hawk moth

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Daria Burr

I saw my first hummingbird moth in Sonora,California

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Heidi

Seen in billings, mt, sept 30th 2023

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Kathy Brown

Yes, I live in Colorado. We have a lot of Hummingbirds, but have never had a Hummingbird Moth ~ I have a good video ~

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K Wike

I live in central California, USDA Zone 8b. I saw my first hummingbird moth two days ago on my pumpkin blossoms and again today checking out my straw flowers. Amazing to watch these insects.

Margaret Taylor

Just seen a humming bird hawk moth dipping into my flowers on the plumbago bush as I was taking my rubbish out! I’m in Algarve, Portugal, I have only seen one once before a few years ago exploring a lantana.

Anthony Malakates

I’m in Columbia, South Carolina, a transplant from Miami, Florida. I always grew papaya trees while in Miami and, so tried growing one here, despite the cold winters. I was unlucky in that it turned out to be a male plant (no fruit), but I kept it anyway because it was a healthy, beautiful specimen. It is loaded with flowers and one day I saw what I thought was a hummingbird (very common here) flitting among them. On closer examination though, I quickly realized it was a moth. I had never seen one before, but I knew of them and, so knew what it was. It continued to flit among the flowers with me very close and has come back over several days. I suspect there’s actually several. (Photo is a still from a video.)

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Heather

WOW! This is a wonderful photo! Thank you for sharing!

Lieza

I have two that come and feed on my flowers I live in East Bethel mn

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Cathy Goodwin

I saw one in my garden and Santa Rosa, California at dusk yesterday near my pin cushion flowers. I had never seen one before, but had seen a discussion about them on a Sonoma county gardening facebook page. Fascinating little creatures!

Mary Harris

I’m in Reno, Nevada and have seen the hummingbird moth several times in my garden. I didn’t have any idea what it was until I came across your article.

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Heather

What a beautiful garden, no wonder the moth is visiting! Thank you for sharing!

Valerie

I have seen one in Rogue River, OR

Darci

We had a beautiful visitor enjoying the sunflowers. Greeley, Colorado

Robert

Nova Scotia, Canada. August 25, ’23 &6 years old and today saw my first hawk moth. Amazing, amazing creature.

Pat

We had this little visitor in our Hummingbird Mint last night around 5 pm. First we thought it was a baby hummingbird but then remembered we had seen one last year in Denver & I looked it up online to see what it was. We now live in Loveland CO.

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Heather

Great shot! They sure are beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

Pam

I had this visitor this afternoon in my cat mint plants, Parker CO

Nancy

Had one in my butterfly bush this morning in Wheaton, IL

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Heather

They are so cool! Thank you for sharing!

Willie Micene

Here is a photo of a hummingbird moth seen today at Lake Tahoe in a flower pot

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Mark

I spotted what I thought was a miniature hummingbird hovering about the flowers. It was brilliant in colors of pink, purple and orange. Then I realized it wasn’t a bird at all, but a moth or butterfly. As I tried to get a closer look, it quickly flew off. But the wings beat fast like a hummingbird. Beautiful specimen, so I googled it. I’m on the southern Oregon coast.

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