Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It's Not a Hummingbird!


 
Sometimes when I am out working in the garden, I have spotted what I thought was a baby hummingbird darting around in the plants. What it really happens to be, is a Hummingbird Hawk Moth. Unlike most moths, it will be found active on a nice sunny day. Hummingbird Hawk Moths are about 2 inch long with similar coloration of a real hummingbird. They even fly and dart around like the bird with a humming sound. Their wingspan is between 2 to 6 inches. Hummingbird Hawk Moths live in fields and gardens and spend their days feeding at flowers much like a hummingbird. Always look for the antennae on their heads to tell the difference between the moth and bird.
 
Female moths, lay eggs on host plants. These are plants that the young caterpillars, once hatched, will feed on. Viburnum, black cherry, hawthorns, honeysuckle, madder and bedstraw are some of their favorites. When the female lays her eggs, the eggs will be deposited on top of the leaves. In about 6 to 8 days the larvae hatch and start to feed on the leaves of the host plant. The larvae are called hornworms. After a month of feeding, the larvae pupate which can last until the following spring.
 
The adult moth enjoys the nectar of flowers like red clover, thistles, wild roses, blackberry, honeysuckle, petunias, lilacs, phlox, verbena and butterfly bushes. They feed on the flowers by using a long mouth part called a proboscis. The proboscis is coiled up until the moth is ready to feed.
 
 
There are 125 species of hummingbird moths in North America. They are great pollinators and always welcomed into my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Debbie

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