Picture this: You’re enjoying an afternoon on your patio or porch and, suddenly, hear the telltale buzzing of a hummingbird. But upon closer inspection, you realize it’s not a bird at all — it’s a hummingbird moth.
Meet the Hummingbird Moth
People initially mistake this bug — which the British call the bee hawk-moth, from the Hemaris genus of Sphinx moths — for the hummingbird. That’s because it acts very much like the bird it mimics.
This moth shimmers, sips, hovers and darts and — yes — even hums! Males have a flared tail, just like a hummingbird. And their wings beat faster than the eye can see.
In fact, wing beating is where these moths outshine their namesake. Hummingbirds hover at 50 beats per second, but the hummingbird hawkmoth almost appears motionless, flying at 85 beats per second.
Of course, there are some differences that set these critters apart.
While hummingbird moths don’t have a long beak, they do have a straw-like, long proboscis that unfurls like a garden hose to draw nectar from garden flowers.
And, of course, the hummingbird is a bird, and the hummingbird moth is