Hummingbird moth


The hummingbird moth has been billed by Nature Canada as one of Canada’s coolest creatures. Although a moth, it is out during the daytime when it sips nectar by hovering over flowers like a tiny hummingbird.

Somewhat uncommon, I have seen our local species only a couple of times, most recently in 2016. It is the Rocky Mountain Clearwing (Hemaris thetis). Four different species of hummingbird moths are found in North America, but sources suggest that thetis is the only one found in British Columbia. 

It is again the time of year to watch for this strange creature, so yesterday I went looking. What I spotted, was clearly a hummingbird moth. It was out in the daytime and sipping nectar as it hovered over flowers. However, it was distinctly different than the thetis normally found in BC. What was it, and how did it get here?

I start with a picture of thetis, a Rocky Mountain Clearwing I took four years ago so as to show the differences with this year’s moth. 

This is the moth seen yesterday. It behaves the same way as thetis as it hovers over a flower sipping nectar. Further, it is about the same size, but its body and wing pattern is different. When this blog was first posted. I thought yesterday’s moth was an eastern hummingbird moth. I was wrong. It is a Yellow-banded Day Sphinx Moth (Proserpinus flavofasciata), something labeled a hawk moth. However, this hawk moth behaves much like the hummingbird moth: it hovers over flowers as it sips nectar.

Here is a side view of the moth sipping nectar.


This entry was posted in bugs. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Hummingbird moth

  1. I saw a hummingbird moth last year in my Harrop garden, Alistair. They are startling creatures – like a hummingbird, but not like a hummingbird. Thx for this post.

  2. Karen Pidcock says:

    I’ve seen one most every year at my flowers too. Thanks for the photos & info…next time I’ll observe more closely to tell which I’m seeing!

  3. Alistair says:

    OK, an ID just in from Claudia Copley of the Royal BC Museum. It is a hawk moth called the Yellow-banded Day Sphinx Moth (Proserpinus flavofasciata). So, I got the behaviour correct, (day flying, hovering while sipping nectar), but the species I chose was wrong. Thank you Claudia.

  4. Sarah says:

    I have pink-winged “Sphinx moths” here in N Idaho (Moscow) that come at dusk to sip from the tall yellow evening primrose (Oenothera biennis). What is the difference between Sphinx, hawk and hummingbird moths?

    I hope to spot a clearwing, thanks for alerting us!

  5. Colin Mackintosh says:

    We saw one of these strange creatures about 10 years ago at our previous home in Winlaw. I can’t recall the colour of species but I had never before seen anything like it and was quite startled by the sheer size of the creature. At the time we couldn’t figure out what it was, none of our fellow gardeners had seen before.

  6. Wow this was a first to me! Thank you. Unbelievable for me and my friends —— had to share the pictures as they did not believe. We all have a love for hummingbirds. This was a first for us all. Now we will try and find if by chance we have them around here somewhere in Alberta!
    Thank you so much, Joey

  7. Irene McIlwaine says:

    Gosh that is beautiful. Wings seem transparent on Dandelion. Many thanks

Comments are closed.