Living deep in the wilderness, one never knows what one will see. And this is especially true if one has an eagle-eyed boyfriend who is always on the watch for creatures of any kind.
The other night I lay in bed, reading in my bathrobe and about to turn off the light, when suddenly Jonathan yelled from the darkened kitchen. “Trish, come here!” he cried. Weary and skeptical, I loudly replied ”What!?” “A hummingbird moth” he hollered back, with excitement in his voice.
“What is he talking about??” I wondered as I clambered out of bed and scrambled to the back door where he stood. “Look!” he instructed, and sure enough there it was, a hummingbird buzzing around in the porch light. What was a hummingbird doing out at that hour?
“It’s a moth” he insisted, “a hummingbird moth”. Surely enough, at close inspection I could see antennae and six legs, very un-bird-like apparati. I watched the strange creature flit about the flowers in the lamp light then fly off around the house.
Back inside I immediately began to research hummingbird moths.
Just like Hummingbirds, you can typically see it flying during the day in meadows, forest edges and flower gardens. Hummingbird moths typically visit one flower for a very short time, then dart away to find another. With its clear wings, body shape and size (they have a wingspan of five or more inches), the Hummingbird Moth bears an uncanny resemblance to the Hummingbird. Their fast, hovering wing action can sound like the buzz of a hummingbird’s wings, too.
The hummingbird moth will feed on a flower much like a hummingbird. But instead of a beak and tongue to lap the nectar, they have little straws called proboscis. They are kept curled under the head when not in use.
Hummingbird moths are found in Alaska and the Northwest Territories south through British Columbia to Oregon, east through the Great Plains and the Great Lakes area to Maine and Newfoundland, and south to Florida and Texas.
These fascinating little moths are not considered a threat to gardens. In fact, they can be quite beneficial through pollination of many species of plants. To attract them to your garden, provide flowers with a strong, sweet scent and are white or pale in color. These garden varieties may attract several kinds of beneficial moths, including the hummingbird and one that mimics the bumblebee.
Just like so many other fascinating creatures dwelling here in Natural Bridges, the Hummingbird Moth is well worth a second look…but you’d better make it quick!
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