02 April 2008

hummingbird moth

One late afternoon last August I was out in the garden and heard a soft buzzing over by the phlox. Following my ears, I came across a fat little flying thing making its way from bloom to bloom. It wasn’t a hummingbird, and it wasn’t a bumblebee, and it wasn’t paying any attention at all to me, so I followed it around for a few minutes.

In the normal course of events when I see something pretty or unusual I don’t have my camera with me. But this thing was obviously going to be hanging around for a while (we have a lot of phlox), so I tiptoed out of the garden and into the house, grabbed my camera, called my sister (who told me she thought it sounded like I was observing a hummingbird moth), had a drink of water, and then went back to the phlox, where I took a bunch of somewhat blurry photos.

What a curious moth! It’s also called a hawkmoth or sphinx moth, and it’s in the family Sphingidae (fun word; I can’t stop saying it to myself). I think I was looking at a white-lined sphinx. Hope we’ll be seeing more of them this summer. I’ve read they love flowers we have lots of, like monarda, phlox, and Verbena bonariensis.

If you want more information on hummingbird moths, click over to www.hummingbirdmoth.com/. You’ll land on a laugh-out-loud entertaining Flash presentation (if you don’t have Flash capability, you can skip it and go into the site where you’ll find lots of cool photos and other information). Seems like the person who created it had the same initial reaction to the hummingbird moth that I did.

Want to know whether you have hummingbird moths in your neck of the woods? Click on “Map Search” and look for “Sphinx Moths, Hawkmoths (Sphingidae)” at www.butterfliesandmoths.org/.


  1. I am so fascinated by this little creatures .. a few other people have posted pictures of them .. they are amazing ! ..
    If one ever finds its way to my garden .. I know by the time I find my camera .. and try not to gasp for air from running around .. well .. you know .. it will be long gone !
    So I have these pictures to enjoy on the site .. thanks !

  2. What a fascinating and aptly named little guy! How wonderful you were able to catch him with the camera. :)

  3. Joy: He really did hang around for quite a while and didn't seem at all shy. He was focused on all the flowers (hmmm, would that we all were focused on the flowers all the time, hmmm.) Thanks so much for the comment and for stopping by!

    Nancy: In spite of the fact he seemed sort of bold to me, I kind of held the camera in his general direction and hoped I could get a good shot. I didn't want to lean into him very much. Thank goodness I didn't use the flash: Buh-bye hummingbird moth! Thanks for your comment!

  4. I love those moths! The first time I saw one, I had the same reaction as you...although they look like a hummingbird, they don't. They kind of look like a fast moving, furry, brown, flying, "lobsterbug" (as I heard one lady dub them)

    Nice little blog you have here. I look forward to watching your gardens grow with you.


  5. That flash intro was hysterical. I don't think I've ever met one of these moths. --Curmudgeon

  6. "J" Thank you for stopping by my blog : )
    And yes .. that African violet is that weird bursting with blue .. blue ! .. when it first opens that is .. it must have something to do with the intensity of the blue .. later it tones down.
    Sophie is a Lynx Point .. but mixed breed .. Main Coon /Siamese odd pairing but I have been shocked to see so many other cats almost like her .. hum ... almost new breed !
    Joy : )

  7. One of those moths usually visits my Phlox every year. They are fascinating. I've never taken a photo of one because I've been mesmerized & stand (or sit) staring at it until it leaves.

  8. kimberley: "Lobsterbug" is pretty perfect, actually. And I think I remember the buzzing was kind of lazy. Hope I get more!

    Curmudgeon: Whenever I see something unusual in the garden my first thought is "Oh, great, a mutant!"

    Joy: So it really IS that blue? How cool is that! Sophie is beautiful. What an expressive face.

    MMcGreg'sDaughter: Believe me, this guy was paying no attention to me and out for all the nectar he could suck up. You'd have time to take a shower and then catch him with your camera. I just wish the light had been a little brighter so I could have gotten his wings, too.

    Thanks all for stopping by!