Maybe you’ve seen these sphinx-shaped winged moths in your flower beds. Despite mimicking a hummingbird in their actions, they are moths and belong to the insect family of Lepidoptera, which includes both butterflies and moths. Scientifically known as Hemaris thysbe, hummingbird moths have a wingspan of 1-1/2 to 2 inches. These moths have antennae, spindle-shaped bodies, and the tip of their tail opens like a fan. They are usually a reddish brown color. Like all Lepidoptera their wings are covered by scales; some species lose many of the scales from patches on their wings. These are called clearwing hummingbird moths.
Like hummingbirds, they hover over flowers unfurling a long, butterfly-like proboscis (think drinking straw) that extends out to feed, then rolls back up and out of the way. Their wings beat quickly and they often emit an audible buzzing sound like a hummingbird.
These moths don’t act like “typical” moths; instead of flying towards a porch light at night, they fly around in mid-day in meadows, forest edges and our front flower garden. Also, like hummingbirds, they hover a
There are four species of hummingbird moths in North America. The most familiar ones are the Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe) and the Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis).
Fascinating to watch, they are challenge to photograph clearly. Like hummingbirds, they are never still for long. These photos were the result of several afternoon photo sessions from the F&P front porch.