Hummingbird Moth aka "Sphinx or Hawk Moth"
One warm August (2004) evening I watering
plants and I caught a glimpse of what I
thought was a butterfly, happily dancing
atop the flowers.
A more studied look revealed this flying
creature was no butterfly. It looked more like
a giant, mutant moth! But it was feeding from
the flowers with this lon..n..ng tube.
Wait! I thought to myself. That's one of
those 'things' I had just read about a few
days ago in my Aug/Sep 04 issue of Birds &
Dropping the hose, I
ran for my camera and
took many pictures of
this friendly flier. It flew
about the flowers and
my head and face,
showing no fear of my
presence or the
nearness of my camera
It happily flitted back
and forth from my pink
bee balm plant and
these clusters of purple
After enjoying its
company for about ten
minutes, and after
flowerpot and planted
bush in the yard, it flew
off into the tall pine
trees in the distance.
movement of their
wings made it
somewhat difficult for
photographer to get
The two pictures above
are the best of the all
the shots. I include the
one at the left to show
what is called the
nectar feeding tube.
As I mentioned above, the
wings are in constant motion.
FAST motion! The article I
read in the magazine noted
that some of these
hummingbird moths can reach
up to speeds of 30 mph.
Part hummingbird and part
moth surely makes an
interesting, and friendly
combination. I enjoyed the visit
and hope to have many more.
|If you haven't had a chance to
check out Birds & Blooms
magazine, click the Aug/Sept
2004 cover above to take a
look at their website.
Description Wingspan 1 1/2-2" (38-50
mm). Wings initially plum-red to brownish
black, but scales drop off after 1st flight,
leaving clear areas devoid of scales, except
Body spindle-shaped, mostly olive-green
with plum-red bands across abdomen and
rear tufts. Caterpillar is yellowish green with
darker green lines and reddish-brown spots
on abdomen and with yellow tail horn.
Life Cycle Caterpillar feeds on foliage of
plants of the honeysuckle family.
Habitat Forest edges, meadows, and
cultivated flower gardens.
Range Coast to coast in the North; also
east of the Great Plains south to the Gulf.
Discussion This moth hovers over
flowers in full sunlight, producing a buzz with
its wings similar to but softer than that of a
hummingbird similarly engaged. There are 2
generations a year.