Currently viewing the category: "Hummingbird Moths, Sphinx Moths or Hawk Moths"

Hummingbird Moth
When we first spotted this moth, we thought we were watching a baby hummingbird. I was curious about the legs and antennae and started doing some research. I still have not been able to locate a species that matches this one yet. Perhaps you can help identify. Moth was photographed feeding on creeping phlox in Granite Falls , North Carolina.
Greg Good

Dear Greg Good,
It looks to me like a Nessus Sphinx, Amphion nessus. The indicating features are the small head, and plump body. Also the two white stripes on the abdomen and the tuft at the tip. According to Holland: “It ranges from Canada to Georgia and westward to Wyoming. It flies in the daytime on cloudy days and in the late afternoon before sunset. The caterpillar feeds on Ampelopsis and the wild grape.”

Yesterday, I spotted what i thought was a hummingbird around my jasmine tree. Upon closer inspection it appeared to be a moth. The most identifiable featurewas it’s extremely bright solid orange wings. It’s body was a blueish purple color with some white markings. I have not been able to identify it on any websites. I will have my camera ready tomorrow. Thank you for your help. I live in South Florida.
Jim Harhart

Dear Jim,
We would love to have that photo if possible. I’m guessing a member of the genus Errinyis, with many members living in Florida. Their upper wings are usually grey, but the lower wings are bright orange. The bodies are often marked with white. My best guess is Errinyis ello. Its caterpillars feed on guava, poinsettia, myrtle and other plants. Here is an image I located online.

Perhaps you can add this photo to your collection I have another full-back view if you would like for me to send it. I’m hoping to take a photo of a sphinx caterpillar some day. This moth visits my Ginger lilies each fall. I live in Jacksonville, NC.

Dear Peg,
Thank you for the beautiful photo of a Pink-spotted hawkmoth (Agrius cingulata [Fabricius]) . The caterpillars feed on jimson weed and sweet potato as well as related plants. Try looking for them there. Good luck.

Hi Bugman,
I’m hoping you can help me identify this insect. My mom planted butterfly bushes this year, and as soon they bloomed we have noticed this cute character coming to feed from the blossoms, with the butterflies. There seems to only be one of them. At least we only see one at a time. I’m attaching a pic , and can send you a couple different views if you need them It hovers, kind of like a hummingbird over the flowers. We thought it was a baby hummingbird, until we got closer to it and seen that it had antennea. Could you please help us identify him?? or her??.
tammy d

Dear Tammy,
It is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, Hemaris thysbe, a type of Sphinx Moth. They are attracted to butterfly bush and are day flying moths often mistaken for hummingbirds or bees. Thank you for the great photo. We have received several letters but never an image.

There is a butterfly-type insect with a long proboscis that drinks flower nectar – it has clear wings that flutter so fast they are almost invisible. The tail has several pretty colors like yellow and red and green and looks like a fuzzy lobster tail. I can’t identify it in any insect book. Please help – I see them about 4 times a summer. Also thanks for the ID on the house centipede. I won’t kill them anymore. Have seen two for the first time in my house. elaine

Dear Elaine,
It is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, Hemaris thysbe, a type of Sphinx Moth. It might also be the Snowberry Clearwing, a close relative. They are attracted to butterfly bush and are day flying moths often mistaken for hummingbirds or bees.

I’m in Sacramento, CA and saw a bug I’ve never seen before in the almost 40 years I’ve lived here. At first I thought it was a bumblebee, it was about the size of an overgrown bumblebee. It was orange-red however and from about 8 feet away it didn’t appear that it was a bumblebee covered in pollen. The orange-red color seemed to be its own. What was also different than a bumble
is that it flew smoothly, not the kind of haphazard way bumbles fly like they’re out of control. The wings were transparent and just behind the head. His body appeared heavy. He wasn’t shiny, he was fuzzy or hairy. The back portion of his body was large and elongated, and hung from his head in the shape of a comma. I’d estimate his body size to be about 1-1/2 inches long, and a good 1/2 inch wide. He didn’t seem to have any trouble flying, but he wasn’t super fast. It was about 8:00 pm in late July, and it was hovering around apple tree shoots coming from the old stump in my yard. I only wish I had a picture to show you. Any idea what it is? Thanks for your time.

Dear Dawn,
My guess is a Sphinx Moth, maybe the Snowberry Clearwing Moth, (Hemaris diffinis) which is sometimes called a Bumble Bee Moth. This image is of a preserved specimen,
and the colors appear faded.