Humming Tricksters

July 23, 2015

Life on the Lake, entry #5

One of my mother’s favorite sights in her patio garden is a hummingbird at one of the many feeders. If you’re lucky (and very still) you’ll get to see them fly from one plant to the next and then to the feeder. If you don’t see them, you’ll at least hear their wings beating rapidly. But be careful you’re not fooled into thinking it’s an actual hummingbird when in fact it may not even be a bird at all.

hummingbird moth I fell for such a thing last summer when I was passing by some of our beautiful flowers in front of the TREE Center. When I looked at the flying creature I was sure it was a hummingbird. It was flying like one. It even had the humming sound of one, but I took a closer look and found it had the face and body of a moth. Insert total confusion here.

I was intrigued by this creature that acted and sounded like a bird, yet looked like an entirely different classification of animal. I started doing some research and found there was such a thing as a Hummingbird Moth. A very appropriate name.

Now I’m not a big fan of moths. Ask anyone in my family, especially my sister or my cousins who witnessed a particular event during my childhood, and they’ll be happy to share the story with you as to why I don’t like them. However, the Hummingbird Moth is the exception to the rule.

hummingbird moth 2

Hummingbird Moths are widespread in North America and common to the Northeast US, so here in Southern Maine we are often treated to the opportunity of observing these intriguing insects. They feed on the nectar of flowers, using a long proboscis to get to the sweet meal. You can find these moths in a variety of habitats including open meadows, forest edges, and suburban gardens. Include any kind of butterfly bush or flowers to your garden and chances are you’ll see a hummingbird moth sometime this summer. Just don’t be fooled by its clever costume.