Hummingbird Moths

sitali301(6)July 21, 2008

Does the fact that I got ridiculously excited to these at my butterfly bush mean I am a hopeless butterfly nerd? LOL

After a bit of research it seems they are hummingbird clearwing moths? One was definitely reddish-brown and one was black and yellow and I'm wondering if they are the same type. Both were nectaring at the same time. Are they male/female? I'm just curious about these odd looking critters!

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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

The one in the bottom picture is definitely a hummingbird clearwing, but I have no idea what the one in the top picture is. Could the coloring be off, like maybe there's a problem with your camera? There are several other types of hummingbird sphinxes, but as far as I know, none have that coloring. Maybe somebody else will know.
Consider Bill Gates - nerds rule!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 6:49PM
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Here's another picture of the black/yellow one. Shape-wise, it was similar, but the coloring was definitely different.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 8:25PM
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Snowberry clearwing moth. It mimics a bee. Nice pics! - Elisabeth

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 8:52PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

There are three species of the clearwing hummingbird moths. The color of any one species can vary alot. You can identify them by the wing patterns (which is usually impossible to see without netting them) or by the color of the legs. The species Thysbe is typically a little larger and the legs are white. The species Diffinis has predominately black legs. I get both too.

This is a thysbe - recently emerged with the scales still on the wings ..

This is a diffinis ....

Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 9:43PM
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crittergirl(z6 MO)

I hardly ever get the Hummingbird Clearwing here. We mostly have the Snowberry one. If you plant some variety of honeysuckle in your garden, the moths will likely lay an egg or two (or ten) and you can raise the cats.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 9:58PM
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proudgm_03(6 MO)

I recently had a visit from a hummingbird moth. I didn't even know they existed till this year. I was entralled and followed him around from petunia to petunia getting pics.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 5:43AM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Beautiful pictures! Especially that newly emerged one! I love those antennae.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 7:05AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Those are wonderful close-up pictures, Jeanner! I can see the differences in color, even the legs. You're quite the photographer!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 8:56AM
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Oooohhhhhhhh - beautiful images! I have raised the snowberry clearwing several times (hemaris diffinus). They use my honeysuckle as a host, but they may also use viburnums, too.

All of the sphinx moths love the "deep-throated" flowers, like the petunias, daturas, morning glories (old species), moonflower, nicotiana, 4 o'clocks, etc. If you plant a lot of these, you'll see lots of sphinx moths - some dayflying and others fly at dusk into the night and before sunrise. I love all the sphinx!


    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 3:35PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Love that first shot of the hummer moth buried in the petunia, I got a real chuckle out of that!

I'm glad that I can at least contribute something here, I mostly just read and admire you all.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 8:55PM
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crittergirl(z6 MO)

Here's one of my (what I assume to be, since the Hummingbird one is a rare sight here) Snowberry Clearwing cats:

They're pretty used to me by now, so this guy didn't even stop eating when I took the pic.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 9:06PM
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irislover_nc(z7 nc)

I submit this as more indication of how much they love the "deep-throated" flowers. This guy barely had to be in the same yard as these petunias to nab a drink. Wowza!

Thanks for letting me jump in for a sec. I am a faithful lurker on this forum.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 10:22PM
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Here's video of a Hummingbird Moth in my back yard. I don't see these very often. I just planted some honeysuckle, so I hope to find the Cats one day.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hummingbird Moth Video

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 8:27AM
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They are lots of fun to raise. Very easy. I just put shredded paper towels in the container and they will make their cocoon in one of the pieces so that once the cocoon is formed and solid, you can remove the paper towel it is in and just place the bare cocoon in a container. If you raise them late in the year, some may overwinter as cocoons to emerge next spring. Leave them outside, though, because indoor temps will cause them to emerge too soon when food is not available. They have to have those cool temps (well, unless you live on the coast where it is always temperate).

Irislover - yours is the pink-spotted hawkmoth, another sphinx, but larger than the hemaris. I have forgotten the latin name for it, but MissSherry probably knows since she has raised them before. I have seen them here, but have not found any eggs or cats to raise.

So far, I've only raised a few sphinx:

Nessus floridensis (Nessus Sphinx--very pretty/cute) (host is Virginia Creeper or grape family; moth larger than hemaris but not much)

Eumorpha Achemon (also pretty; same host as Nessus; larger moth)

Elm Sphinx (another big caterpillar/moth)

Walnut Sphinx (smaller; about same size as Nessus)

Trumpet Vine Sphinx (larger than Nessus; a bit smaller than the Elm, Walnut and Eumorphas)

Manduca sexta (6-spotted hawkmoth) (tomatoes, daturas host plants)

Manduca quinquemaculata (sp?)(Tomato Hornworm, or 5-spotted hawkmoth) (same host plants as sexta)

Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinus) (honeysuckle host plant)


    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 8:56AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

That's a great video, Butterflyman! There's something about the hummingbird clearwings that mesmerizes me - I can't take my eyes off them when they're in the garden. I've never found a cat, though! :(
'Love that pink-spotted hawkmoth, Irislover - please post more often! My picture of a pink-spotted hawkmoth is one of my faves, because you can see the LONG proboscis!


    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 9:34AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

I loved those long-tongued moths, MissSherry and Irislover. Pretty tricky to be taking in nectar so far away. That would allow them to keep an eye out for predators.

Butterflyman, that was a great video. All these moths fascinate me.

Susan, I think you hold the record for raising Sphinx moths. It's incredible how many different ones you've had in your yard. They are such interesting creatures.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 10:04AM
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Thanks for the responses! I guess I must have hummingbird clearwings and snowberrys. Very interesting! They LOVE my black knight buddleia! I see them every time I'm looking at the bush. That is one popular bush this year with the nectar-loving crowd!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 2:20PM
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Is there a type that has a white head and is larger, with a rear end that curves upward as it hovers? I saw some clearwings today, but the one I saw a couple of weeks ago was a fair bit larger and definitely different.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Ungardener's Garden

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 4:34PM
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A lot of them curve their abdomens up - such a cute thing to see!

Bobbic - I am so sorry about your 23-year old horse, Fantasy! It's so hard to see our loved ones leave this earth. But, today I was listening to one of the talk shows, and she said that our loved ones are with us in spirit in the form of butterflies, moths, and birds! So, you did the perfect thing by planting a butterfly bush in Fantasy's honor!

A lady I know who works at the County Courthouse lost her only child, a son, in the 9-11 bombing. She has 2 grandchildren at least. But, she planted a butterfly garden in his memory! I thought that was just the most wonderful, spiritual thing to do!

Anyway, I applaud you for honoring your horse in that way. Thru butterflies and moths, he will always be with you.

I'm trying to think of which sphinx moth has a white head. Where are you located (state)?


    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 5:07PM
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I'm in Central Virginia. I looked through a gallery of pictures of Hummingbird Moths, Hawk Moths and Sphinx Moths and didn't see one like I saw, darn it! I was much bigger than the Snowberry Clearwing we saw today... probably almost twice the size! I desperately wish I'd have gotten my camera up and snapped a picture.

Actually Fantasy was 31... I had him for 23 years, he was 7 when my parents bought him :) Thank you for your condolences. I figure that he'll never be alone and butterfly bushes are very hardy here so I don't have to worry about losing it. My plan for next year is to put in some milkweed. Is there a preferable kind? Does it need to be near the butterfly garden? Forgive me if those are very basic questions, I'm happy to look at links if there are some that have good information. I want to plant the most beneficial plants that I can and I don't know which sites have good information and which are just about what looks pretty, which is secondary in my opinion.

On another note, I can't believe how well my monarda did this year! I put in one raspberry sorbet that had one flower on it last year and this year I got about 8 stems that were huge! It's very exciting... sorry about all of the explanation points *giggle* I put in a white monarda and a red (Jack Kline), and I'm also planning to put in some coneflower next year as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Ungardener's Garden

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 8:51PM
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I had one outside that I planted 5 years ago and it had never bloomed. However, it travelled around the front garden and found a place (among the grass and tall weeds) and finally bloomed this year. It's called Monarda 'Thundercloud' and is a bright red, too. It was gorgeous.

I also have the species Monarda didyma, which is a pinkish purple color. The moths and butterflies love it, too, but this year it didn't attract much of anything. We're having a very slow year.

OOOO - I'd love to have a white Monarda. I bet it will attract a lot of the night-flying sphinx moths! I'm going to have to invest in one next year. I also tried to get some white 4 o'clocks started this year, but was totally unsuccessful. The Broken Colors reseeded and are blooming (true to the parent). Moths love these, too because they start blooming late in the day (hence the name) and bloom all night.

Tropical milkweed is pretty (you can get the gold, gold/red, and red flowers). Also, you might want to plant some feathery fennel (for Black Swallowtails). It may be hardy for you there. Mine is hardy in zone 7 (Oklahoma), but they are short-lived (I get the bulb fennel and the Bronze fennel). The bronze is "iffy" for overwintering, but the bulb will last about 4-5 years.

If you go to Monarch Watch, there is a list of various types of milkweed that you can browse to see what fits your needs, and USDA will tell you if that particular species is native to your state. Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet' is pretty with white blooms. Milkweed does attract the oleander aphids (orange) which make the plant more unsightly than damaging it. Milkweed bugs and milkweed beetles also damage the flowers and the foliage. I think the bugs eat the seedpods (orange and black and resemble boxelder bugs), and the beetles eat the foliage (round and orange, orange with black spots when fully grown). So you have to be vigilant about keeping your milkweed clean for the Monarch cats. I bring mine in to raise and clean the foliage and dry it before feeding it to them. They are much more susceptible to disease than other butterflies.


Here is a link that might be useful: Monarch Watch

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 12:57PM
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Hello eveyone!

I was wondering if there was a place I could order the Hummingbird Moths from to release in my yard? I have one green tomato horn worm, that ate a green tomato the size of a golf ball in one day, but I would really like to see more of these huge moths out and about.



    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 11:36AM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

I just love the pictures in this thread.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 2:07AM
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i have 2 clear wings that visit my yard daily. they are very interesting.they seem to arrive at the same time as well.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 12:29PM
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Does anyone have any ideas on saving our tobacco hornworm moths? In November, indoors?

We've been told by a butterfly expert that they WON'T eat indoors, and they don't seem to be eating, despite:

* a hummingbird feeder, with official butterfly food, and we glued a fake petunia on the end of the tube, so it hopefully looked kinda like something they'd try to eat from. If they used it, we were asleep and didn't see it. They sleep all day.
* I've brought in some petunias from the window box (amazingly, they're still blooming the day after Thanksgiving!)
* I've put liquid official butterfly food in a clean washcloth, nudged one up to it, and it chose to climb further up on the washcloth, last night. (2/3 of his/her right wings are gone, so he'll never hover again.)
* I bought them some Stargazer lilies, (probably not their proper food)
* They're in the guest bedroom (so the cats don't get at them again) where there's a Mandevilla flower -- big pink flowers, petunia-shaped.
I'm going to try mounting the hummingbird feeder so that they reach it from the Mandevilla pot, where they may feel comfortable, blending in with the soil. Don't know if being on soil is good for them, either. But what do I do with them?

This is late November; they can't be active in the usually 40+ degree temperatures out there, and there's very little blooming out there for them to eat. (They came indoors because, as caterpillars, they were on a tomato plant that we brought inside when it was likely to frost overnight, and we let them and their 6 sibs eat it ALL up. Most of their sibs crawled away after we put the pot back outside when the weather warmed up, and the tomato was out of leaves). At least these 2 pupated in the pot and came out 3 days ago.

They will probably die soon, since they're probably not getting anything to eat. Funny--as caterpillars, they ate all day -- except when they saw us watching. Eventually they lost their fear of us, and ate when we were looking at them. Now, they want out! Little do they know.

Another interesting thing: wild moths do not let you pick them up. These don't seem to have the usual fear of me. BEFORE they lost their ability to fly, when their wings had had many hours or a whole day to dry, they let me pick them up -- maybe they remember something from their past lives.

Anyway, we're going to crazy lengths to try to give them their normal (2-week?) adult lifespan. Can anyone propose other means to get them to eat?


    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 8:45PM
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No harm in trying. I believe they only feed at night. You could put a drop of two of extra nectar in the center of the flowers that you brought in.
I don't have any experience trying to feed them but perhaps someone else will see this and comment. If not, start a new thread so it will be sure to be noticed.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 8:03AM
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This is a hummingbird moth we get in our Flox every year, I don't know a lot about them, I keep watching for articles like this one. Until they showed up a number of years ago I had never heard of them, thought we were seeing some hummingbird variation.

Love the pics others have posted here!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 5:42PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

Ummm... that is a Giant Swallowtail butterfly. Unless there is also a hummingbird moth in the picture that I am missing.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 11:24AM
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I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and love to photograph insects. Was out with my Nikon D90 and 60mm macro lens when I spotted this strange moth/humming bird. Because of the distance from lens to insect, photos are not that crisp. I'll go back with the long lens next time.
Never having heard of one, let alone seen one I did some research and found this site.
Not sure what this one is called and there were a couple of smaller and different ones in the same patch.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 9:44PM
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jeanner- your pictures are incredible. May I ask what kind of camera you're using?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 12:16PM
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