Oh my–a ‘hummingbird moth’

Many people have seen these ‘hummingbird moths’ and mistook them for actual hummingbirds. Easy to see how that can happen since they hover at nectar producing flowers and stick their proboscis (the long, thin tube they drink from)  into the flower to such up the nectar–just like actual hummingbirds.

The hummingbird moth in the top photo has it’s proboscis curled up.  The website Butterflies and Moths describes this as follows:  “The proboscis rolls up like a party noisemaker when not in use….”


‘Hummingbird moths’ are not their real names just how many people refer to them. Here is what the  World of Hummingbirds   website says about them:

  • “The hummingbird moth belongs to the family of moths technically call the Sphingidae family or Sphinx family of moths.”
  • “There are many different types of Hummingbird Moths. These can include the Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth, the Tersa Sphinx Hummingbird Moth, and the White-lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moth”


 This hummingbird moth is a White-lined Sphinx Moth which is obviously named for the white line across their wings.  Notice the long proboscis on the hummingbird moth in the photos just above and below–it is inside the flower on my Sonoran Sunset cana Agastache plant.  I wrote about White-lined Sphinx Moths getting nectar from this long blooming plant in an earlier article here.


I have several of these cute hummingbird moths feeding on the Sonoran Sunset agastache plants in my yard in Colorado.  Have you seen any of these hummingbird moths?

      • Scarlette says

        I think there is something quite disgusting about hummingbird moths. I had them in my garden one year and that was it. I’m glad to not see them again.

    • Sherry says

      I have seen the bright green ones in Pennsylvania. They were flying around my impatient plants! I never knew such a thing existed. Thanks for the clarification on the photo.

  1. says

    I love the first picture showing the curled up proboscis. I had a bumblebee moth (Hemaris diffinis, a type of hummingbird moth) visit my pot of verbena this summer. Hummingbird moths are such fun to watch.

  2. says

    I have a photo I took of a hummingbird moth going to my yellow Columbine flowers. I took it through my window and was so excited. It isn’t the quality of this photo here! But I think it is the same kind of moth. I looked up on internet about them and I learned there are many. I feel blessed to have a photo of one.

  3. Heather says

    I first found out about hummingbird moths one summer evening, at dusk. I heard this humming noise, knew hummingbirds wouldn’t be out so late & went to investigate. I found approx. 30 of them feeding on my confederate jasmine. I’ve looked forward to seeing them every summer since.

  4. says

    Am I right that these moths come from the tomato hornworm? Whenever I see one, I check my garden and often find the hornworms already at work :-(

  5. Jill says

    In Wisconsin… had alot of these last year. Saw my first one of the season today. They are a lot easier to take pictures of than hummingbirds! Ha!

  6. Yvonne says

    I also have pictures a a humming bird moIh was so excited it wss the 1st time I ever saw one the pics are from last yr I will try to find them I am from Michigan

  7. Gabi Wenzelow says

    Yes as a matter of fact I have.they are all over my front yard.I have never noticed them in past years.I thought they were the tiniest hummingbird that I had ever seen and was so excited and have been trying endlessly to get a photo.but they wiz by so fast.there is something that I noticed though that hummingbirds do not do.they are not interested in drinking from the hummingbird feeder rather they buzz around the plantswith blooms and stick their tongue in there.the thing they do that made me realize they were not hummingbirds is they sat on the grass.I observe two or three of them sticking their heads down inside the blades of grass close to the dirt.they remain there for over a minute.they also buzz around Green shrubberies.

  8. skizzatt says

    Had one on my flowers this evening as I was watering. They are not the least bit afraid. The Missouri Conservation monthly magazine published an article about the sphinx moth several years ago.

  9. margaret thompson says

    I’ve been around for eighty years and have never seen these hummingbird moths..I have lots of flowers tho…Thank you for this info….

  10. Samantha Solomon says

    I’ve had the Sphinx moths come to my yard…they really like the four o’ clock flowers. They usually show up later in the evening.

    • Karin says

      Yes, I see them every summer. I live in Texas in the Dallas area. They come out mostly in the evening & flit from flower to flower just like regular hummingbirds. They seem to especially like my pentas. They are really fun to watch and let you get very near them to take pics.

  11. Linda says

    We have seen one at our butterfly bush a couple years ago in Greenville, SC. It was amazing and stayed around for a few days. Have not seen one since.

  12. Michele Welsh says

    Last week I was standing on my porch when I saw one hovering over our purple petunias. I was so excited because I had never seen anything like it before!! I called my mom out to see it. I had no idea what it was so I googled what it looked like. They’re very interesting!! Since then he’s been coming and going on a regular basis!! Very cool!!

  13. Ray says

    I live in wyoming and they love to visit are four o’clocks every year. I look forward to them ever year

  14. Shannon Darby says

    I started seeing one at my phlox for the 1st time ever just last year. It is back this year, very cool! Also live in CNY.

    • Sue says

      I had one at my phlox this year also! I was out watering the garden and it stayed around and wasn’t scared one bit!

  15. Bonnie says

    I live in Commerce, Gad and they fly around mostly at night. They really enjoy my four o’clock flowers.

  16. Dee says

    I am in North Central Iowa. We had one on our Columbine last year. He fed for hours at a time so I have many photos and a lot of video. Amazing creature.

  17. Mary says

    I love going to the Stanley Hotel courtyard in Estes Park in the evening to watch the Hummingbird Moths feeding on their flowers in the garden. They are beautiful and it’s funny to hear people that walk by say “Oh, look at the hummingbirds!”.

  18. Marlene says

    They like my butterfly bushes. But the hornworms show up on my vegetable plants shortly after. The moths are so cute! But mine seem to have little lobster tails. And, yes, they’re not very afraid. I’ve gotten several close-ups of them at the bushes.

  19. Arlene Michalenko says

    I have some neat pictures of these guys in my petunias a few summers ago. I was pretty excited when I saw the first one because I thought I had hummingbird flying beside me but he stuck around so I could go get my camera.

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