It’s Not a Hummingbird…But What is it?


Who are you?

I admit it.  The first time a hummingbird moth buzzed past me in my garden, I thought it was a baby hummingbird.  I watched closely, trying to follow this speedy little creature as it hovered and zoomed between flowers.  I noticed its long curved proboscis curling in and out as it collected nectar from our flowers, and I realized it must be some kind of butterfly or moth.


Curly proboscis finds nectar

Meet the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. Sure enough, these little moths are considered hummingbird mimics, and act in many of the same ways that hummingbirds do.   However, their life cycle is completely different, as they are moths, not birds!


Enjoying some Mexican Hyssop

In the fall, the caterpillars burrow into the soil to spend the winter as a brown, hard shelled pupae.  As spring days grow warmer, they emerge as adult moths.  The moths lay their little green eggs on the underside of leaves.   These eggs will hatch in about a week, and take about four weeks to become full sized caterpillars.  In Canada, the moths usually only go through one breeding cycle per year.


Bee balm is their all time favourite in my garden

Invite Hummingbird Moths to Your Garden. It’s easy!   Two very hardy, long-blooming and beautiful flowers are absolute favourites of these beauties.    Plant some Red Bee Balm and Mexican Hyssop, sit back, and enjoy the show!



  1. Such a funny little insect – but really lovely looking up close! Its thorax looks soft and huggable.

  2. What a different bug/bird!!!!!!

  3. Lorraine Fargey MacDougall

    Who would have known! I will keep an eye out for them!

  4. wonderful closeups and post! we have bee balm, anise hyssop, and hummingbird hawkmoths (which I mistook for a small hummingbird the first time) in the summer, but ours appear at dusk, which makes photography impossible.

  5. Mine showed up past 10pm in BC Canada in my little townhouse garden! I thought it was a small hummingbird at first, then when I realized it wasn’t it freaked me out a bit. Do they harm the garden at all?

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