This moth is a hummer!

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a . . . moth? Although they’re hard to find, one of the most unusual insect visitors to your garden is the hummingbird moth. They fly and move just like hummingbirds and can remain suspended in the air in front of a flower while they sip the nectar with their long tongues. They also emit an audible hum like hummingbirds. There are more than 1,200 species of these moths worldwide, and around 125 of them can be seen regularly in North America. They’re also called hawk moths, sphinx moths, clearwing moths, bee moths and bee-hawk moths. In the caterpillar stage, they are called hornworms.

Hummingbird moths are rather plump and usually are a reddish brown color. Their wings are covered by scales and some species are called clearwing hummingbird moths because they lose many of the scales from patches on their wings. They have very long tongues which they carry rolled under their chins and use to reach the nectar of long-necked flowers.

Hummingbird moths have been seen as a lucky omen: A swarm of the moths was seen flying across the English Channel on D-Day, the day of the Normandy landings in World War II. Want to see one in action? Click here:

(Video by Vicki Eident, Indianapolis)

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