You may have noticed something flying in your garden that looks like a tiny hummingbird. It may not have been a hummingbird at all.
Hummingbird Moth Facts
The Hummingbird Moth is an example of convergent evolution. This phenomenon describes two entirely different species that share similar features and functions.
One similarity is their appearance. The moth looks almost identical to the bird. However, it is approximately half the size of a hummingbird. A second difference is hummingbird moths have two antennae.
Their flying habits are similar. They can stay in flight as long as necessary for feeding. They can fly backwards and sideways, too.
Hummingbird Moths usually produce at least two broods per year. Reproduction occurs more frequently in the southern range.
Each brood contains up to 200 eggs. The tiny green eggs are usually laid on the underside of leaves. It takes 6-8 days for the eggs to hatch. The hatched eggs produce larvae. The larval stage lasts approximately 20 days.
The next stage, known as pupa or chrysalis, can last around 2 weeks before the moth emerges. This stage can last longer if they are protected in leaf litter. If it is fully protected, it can stay in this stage throughout the entire winter.
As humming sounds come from hummingbirds as they hover, the moth shares this characteristic. The same flowers hummingbirds feed from also attract the moths, and they share the same ability to detect color. They both love bright red flowers.
There are different species of Hummingbird Moths. Only four species can be found in North America. The Clearwing is the most common.
Moths do not have the same lifespan as hummingbirds. While the life-expectancy of hummingbirds is 3-8 years, moths rarely live more than 7 months.
The birds and moths have different flying and feeding habits. While hummingbirds fly and feed in the daytime, moths like the nighttime, too.
Hummingbirds have beaks, but a moth does not. Instead, it has a tongue-like appendage which rolls out from a coiled tube. This feature helps moths obtain nectar from long-throated flowers.
The moth is fast. It can fly up to 12 mph, and its wingbeat can reach up to 70 beats in a second.
Hummingbird Moth Facts And Myths
Contrary to myth, moths are not harmful. They will not harm hummingbirds or other birds, people, or plants. The only problem is if a large number of moths take over your garden.
A second misconception is based on its name. Although it shares the name of this popular garden bird, it is not a bird. It is actually an insect.
When you hear that familiar sound in your garden, take time to take a closer look. The unmistakable humming could be coming from a Hummingbird Moth.