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Hummingbird Moth 2

August 21, 2013.

I couldn’t resist–it’s been such a treat to see so many of these moths on the Museum grounds this summer, I just had to share them with you!  These beautiful daytime-flying moths zip about like miniature “bumblebee colored” hummingbirds.  Their wingbeats even sound like a hummingbird’s!  I was able to get a few photos showing their incredibly long whip-like proboscis (tongue) that they use to slurp up nectar as they hover in front of a flower:

Take a look at this proboscis curled up as the hummingbird moth flew from flower to flower:

The hummingbird moths did not seem to mind other insects like wasps, bees and butterflies sharing the flowers.  Here a hummingbird moth shares flowers of a bottlebrush buckeye with a silver-spotted skipper, a kind of butterfly.  Also notice, I took this photo at a high shutter speed–essentially slowing the wings down enough so you can actually see the structure of the wings.  The wings have “scales” on them like all butterflies and moths, but soon after emerging from their cocoon, the scales in certain areas are shaken off, resulting in the translucent “windowpane” spots:

I was also lucky enough to see two hummingbird moths at the same time–in the first photo, one hummingbird moth approaches the other at high speed….

….resulting in a “train-wreck” into the other one:

Don’t worry!  They just sort of bounced into each other then they both flew off–it all happened in a split second.  That’s all for now….more off the beaten path in two weeks!


  • The Mysteries of Moths | Birds & Beyond

    […] Figure 3: Hummingbird Moth. Yes, that is a moth. Photo courtesy of the Virginia Living Museum […]

  • rachel williams

    Hey, Great pictures! Do you know what the white flower with the long curly stamen is? I am going to use as inspiration for a sculpture, and the flower/hummingbird moth coupling here is perfect, but as it is a 3 d piece I would need more pictorial reference for different angles of the flower

    • Off the Beaten Path

      Hi Rachel, It’s a bottlebrush buckeye flower–quite lovely and really attracts lots of bees, wasps, butterflies, and moths. I’m glad you found some inspiration from my blog! Cheers, Lisa


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