The Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory

P&PDL Picture of the Week for
July 24, 2006

Hummingbird – no wait – it’s a moth!

Timothy Gibb, Insect Diagnostician, Department of Entomology, Purdue University

We receive many calls and e-mails each year that are very similar to the following: “I was outside this weekend and noticed what I thought was a hummingbird.  It was early evening and I was surprised the “hummingbird” let me get so close.  Upon further inspection, I saw that it was actually a large moth that looked like a hummingbird in its size, shape and movement.  It also had a long proboscis that was fully extended and it was sipping nectar from flowers on our patio.  I snapped a few pictures which are attached.”

If it looks like a humming bird and acts like a hummingbird – but is a moth - it is correctly called a hummingbird moth.  These belong to a family of night flying moths called Sphingidae.  They are of no real concern when moths but the species pictured here (tomato hornworms) can be devastating as caterpillars when they attack tomatoes and other garden plants.

 

 

 

 

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Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service