Hummingbird moths sound like hummingbirds and fly around from blossom to blossom in quest of nectar, making a hummingbird-like buzz as they zip from bloom to bloom.
Hummingbird moth facts, images, and information are all included on this page. Before we look at five types of hummingbird moth found in the United States, we’ll take a look at general information about hummingbird moths. Lastly, we’ll examine the hummingbird hawk-moth, which is found across Europe (including the United Kingdom), Africa, and Asia.
What Is A Hummingbird Moth?
The genus Hemaris belongs to the sphinx moth family, and most of the moths known as ‘hummingbird moths’ belong to this genus.
On this page, Animal Classification, you can learn what words like “genus” and “family” mean.
The white-lined sphinx moth and the hummingbird hawk moth are two other sphinx moths that are better known as hummer moths but aren’t of the genus Hemaris.
The video below shows a hummingbird clearwing moth, Hemaris thysbe, perched on a flower.
Hummingbird moths have barrel-shaped bodies, long wings, and long proboscises (sucking mouthparts). Hummingbird moths are active during the day, unlike most moths, and can be seen zigzagging from blossom to blossom in their hunt for nectar.
Because of their resemblance to hummingbirds, Hummingbird moths are often mistaken for them. Their appearance, flying style, andnectar-gathering habits are similar to those of hummingbirds.
The translucent wings of Hummingbird moths, also known as clearwing moths, earned them the name. Clearwing moths’ wings are covered in scales at first, but after a few flights, the scales fall away, leaving the wing panels clear. The scales of clearwing moths are similar to those of other moths.
(The clear wings of some hummingbird moths, such as the olive bee hawkmoth Hemaris croatica and the Kashmir bee hawkmoth Hemaris Rubra, aren’t evident.)
Which Hummingbird Moth Species Are Found In North America?
The hummingbird clearwing (H. hummingbird) is one of four species found in North America’s genus Hemaris. Snowberry clearwing (H. thysbe) H. infuscatus, slender clearwing H. gracilis) are clearwinged moths found in the Rocky Mountains. Thetis (Norse mythology)
North America is also home to the white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata), a hummingbird moth of the genus Hyles.
- To see the five US states, scroll down the page or click here. Hummingbird moths are a kind of moth.
Hummingbird moth and white-lined sphinx moth Larry Lamsa (cropped by ActiveWild.com)
The genus Hemaris moths are commonly referred to as bee hawk moths in Europe. In Europe, there are three different species.
Although it belongs to the sphinx moth family, the hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) is not a member of the genus Hemaris.
Hummingbird moths have huge, buzzing bodies and long, sweeping wings. A tail-like tuft or fan of short, stiff bristles extends from the end of the abdomen.
Hummingbird moths come in a variety of colors, such as olive green, rusty reddish brown, and yellow. Animals’ backs and bellies frequently vary in color. Horizontal bands or other patterns on the body are seen on many hummingbird moths.
Antennae & Proboscis
The antennae of hummingbird moths are long and club-like, and they typically expand towards the end. When not in use, the proboscis is kept coiled for roughly twice the length of the body.
Hummingbird Moth Caterpillars
Larvae of the white-lined sphinx ActiveWild.com’s Katja Schulz (cropped by ActiveWild.com)
Because of the horn-like spike that protrudes from the rear of the body, Hummingbird moth larvae (caterpillars) are classified as hornworms.
The plant-damaging tomato hornworm or tobacco hornworm, which are the larval forms of the five-spotted hawkmoth and tobacco hawk moth, respectively, should not be confused with hummingbird moth caterpillars.
Hummingbird moth eggs are tiny, spherical, and lustrous green in hue. The glossy surface of most species’ cocoons is smooth.
Hummingbird Moth Habitat
Hummingbird moths prefer meadows, cultivated gardens, and suburban settings, but can be found in a wide range of settings.
Hummingbird moths are most active during the day or at dusk, unlike most moths. Peak months for activity are usually June and August.
Hummingbird moths are skilled fliers who can hover in one place while flying backwards and sideways. Hummingbirds make a humming noise, and their swift wing flutters make a similar sound.
Hummingbird Moth Life Cycle
The pupa of the hummingbird hawk moth A. is the photographer. M. is an abbreviation of the Latin mons veneris (mountain of worship). [CC BY-SA 2.5] Liosi (cropped by ActiveWild.com)
Hummingbird moths go through four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa, and adult, as do other butterflies and moths.
During the summer, hummingbird moths reproduce. After mating, the female finds a suitable host plant on which to lay her eggs, and she produces pheromones to attract a male. On the underside of a leaf, the eggs are frequently laid.
The caterpillars feed until they are fully grown (usually in a few weeks after hatching). They finally pupate on the ground, forming a cocoon beneath leaf debris or buried in the soil, and emerge as adults.
Each year, a single generation is produced in colder regions, while two or three generations are produced in warmer regions.
Hummingbird moth adults may live up to seven months or as little as three weeks, depending on the species.
What Do Hummingbird Moths Eat?
Hummingbird moths feed on nectar, and they often visit the same long-necked flowers as hummingbirds.
Plants in the honeysuckle family, such as viburnum and snowberry, are particularly attractive to moths. Horse mint, beebalm, phlox, verbena, dogbane, cardinal, red valerian, salvia, and buddleia (butterfly bush) are among the flowers whose nectar they consume.
Are Hummingbird Moths Endangered?
The IUCN has not classified any of the hummingbird moth species as endangered. Yet, some species may be declining in popularity locally. The small clearwing, for example, has a slender body. In Connecticut, Gracilis is a species that is endangered.
Hummingbird Moths Found In North America
Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)
In Virginia, there’s a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. Judy Gallagher (cropped by ActiveWild.com) [CC BY 2.0]
The hummingbird clearwing, which lives in the United States and Canada, is a species of moth. It can be found from Alaska to Florida, as well as in Canada and the eastern United States.
The head and thorax are olive green, the abdomen is burgundy, and the underside is pale in most individuals. Coloration varies between individuals.
The central panels of the wings are clear, with brown/burundy/olive green edges. 4.5 – 5.5 cm (1.6 – 2.2 in) is the species’ wingspan
The lack of banding on the side of the thorax and pale yellow legs distinguish the hummingbird clearwing from the snowberry clearwing.
Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis)
The Snowberry Clearwing Moth (ActiveWild.com cropped the image)
The caterpillar feeds on snowberry plants, hence the name of the snowberry clearwing. The thorax is typically gold or olive-gold, and the abdomen is black with one or two yellow / gold segments near the end. The snowberry clearwing’s coloration varies from person to person, but the thorax and abdomen are generally golden..
Snowberry clearwing’s gold and black coloration makes it easy to mistake for a bumblebee because of the similarities in appearance.
Although it has been recorded in California and Alberta, Canada, the species is most common in the Eastern United States and southeast of Canada.
The black stripe that runs from the insect’s head, across the eye, and under the wings on the thorax distinguishes it from the hummingbird clearwing, as do its black legs.
Slender Clearwing / Graceful Clearwing (Hemaris gracilis)
Clearwing with slender wings. (cropped by ActiveWild.com) [CC BY 3.0] Photo: The Natural History Museum Trustees, London
With an olive head and thorax and a burgundy abdomen, the slender clearwing is very similar to the hummingbird clearwing.
The thin white stripe around the abdomen where it meets the thorax, as well as the red-brown stripe along the side of the thorax from behind the eye and under the wings to reachus, are all characteristics of a slender clearwing.
The eastern United States are where you’ll most likely find the species.
Rocky Mountain Clearwing / California Clearwing (Hemaris thetis)
Robert Young (cropped by ActiveWild.com) [CC BY 3.0]
The Rocky Mountain clearwing can be found in the west, as its name implies. From southwest Canada to northwest Mexico, it has a wide range.
The head and thorax are olive-green, while the abdomen is black with one or more adjacent yellow/gold segments. The species’ coloration varies, while being generally olive-green.
White-Lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata)
The white-lined sphinx is larger than the American hummingbird moths, with a wingspan of between 2 and 3 inches. In comparison to the day-flying clearwings, it is also more likely to be seen flying at dusk and during the night.
A white-line sphinx moth can be seen in pursuit of nectar in the video below, flying from bloom to bloom.
Long forewings with a white central stripe and numerous thinner cross-stripes make up the species’ lengthy forewings. A wide pink central stripe runs down the hindwings, which are black. Many white and black stripes go down the abdomen.
From the United States through southern Canada and Central America, the white-lined sphinx may be found.
Other Hummingbird Moths
Hummingbird Hawk-Moth (Macroglossum stellatarum)
Bulgaria is home to the Hummingbird Hawk Moth. CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
In Europe, Asia, and Africa, the hummingbird hawk-moth is a sphinx moth. While it does not have clear wings, it shares a similar look to hummingbird moths (but does not belong to the genus Hemaris).
From late spring to early autumn, the hummer hawk moth can be seen in the UK. It features black wings, a grey head and thorax, and white patches on its abdomen. The head and thorax are white/grey on the underside. From 50 to 58 mm in wingspan, the moth comes in a variety of colors.
When feeding, the hummingbird hawk moth hovers and darts sideways and backwards as it flies from blooms to blooms, emulating a hummingbird in appearance. It also makes a humming sound while flying, similar to the hummingbird moths of genus Hemaris.
“Hummingbird Moth Facts: Discover The Amazing Moths That Look (And Sound) Like Hummingbirds!”