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

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.

We really enjoy your website. Fun & interesting letters. We have a mysterious bug sighting to report. Near dusk, we spotted what looked like a small hummingbird going from flower to flower on our porch. We looked closely at him, and he was fearless. Totally oblivious to us, less than a foot away from him. He had kind of a fuzzy dark yellow body, and wings moving so fast you coudn’t see them. His tail was black or dark brown, and was actually similar in shape to that of a crawdad! He had six legs (or so), so we know he wasn’t a bird. He was about 2 1/2 inches long. Is this a moth of some sort? He didn’t seem to be attracted to the porchlight, just the flowers. We’re in central Indiana, and we spotted him on a warm & humid evening in early July.
Thank You — J & C & D

Dear J&C&D,
Sphinx Moths are often called Hummingbird Moths. There are many species in the family Sphingidae, including the Tobacco Sphinx, Manduca sexta, or Tomato Hornworm, the dreaded green worm that eats tomato plants. The Tobacco Sphinx is yellow and greyish brown on the body with greyish wings. the wingspan can reach nearly 4 1/2 inches. There is also a group of genuses known as the hummingbird clearwings.

Years ago, I came across a black centipede with yellow legs, about 6 to 8 inches long. I live in N.E. Oklahoma. I have only seen 1 or 2 since then. How common are these?

Dear Curious About Centipedes in Oklahoma,
Due to the general lack of cooperation from the chilopods, the class of invertebrates known as centipedes, there has been no formal census or headcount in recent years. Oklahoma does seem to be a breeding ground for the large centipede that you describe as there are hundreds of www links to be found, albeit, none with comprehensive information. Rock climbers in Chandler Park, Oklahoma, are warned to "Beware of poison ivy and the dreaded foot long centipedes which like to take refuge in the thousands of pockets found here. They are poisonous" and the author has personally seen one chewing on a large field mouse. I have also found information that claims they eat young rattlesnakes.