HOW TO ATTRACT THE HUMMINGBIRD HAWK MOTH




If you have never come across a hummingbird hawk moth before then your first time may come as a bit of a shock, a pleasant one of course. The reason why is this, the hummingbird hawk moth is responsible for the largest number of mistaken identity cases of any animal within the British Isles. Unsurprisingly this would be the actual hummingbird.

Unlike the majority of moths you would come cross, this one is already unusual by being active during daylight hours. However it’s most unusual feature – and the reason behind it miss-identification - is the way it flies. It beats its wings so fast that they are no more than a blur, and like a true humming bird they are able to hover whilst feeding for nectar with a long uncoiled proboscis. To complete the illusion, the speed of their beating wings is such that they emit the trade mark hum from which the hummingbird gets it name.
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Compared to our native moths it’s much more colourful too. Its wings are coloured green or reddish brown, while its dark body is punctuated with dots and stripes of yellow and white

So how it has such an exotic species managed to find its way to our emerald shores. Abundant and resident in all Mediterranean countries, the Humming bird moth migratory habits are well documented with many thousands moving northwards in Europe during the spring. There is also evidence of a return migration in the autumn. Although they are known to successfully breed in this country, they are generally unable to survive our winters. This means that we are always reliant on new colonies coming up from southern France.


To increase your chances of attracting the hummingbird moth to your garden, there are a number of plants that you can add to your borders that can help to encourage them. Of particular importance is the Galium verum, more commonly known as Lady's Bedstraw or Yellow Bedstraw. This is the plant that the adults prefer to lay their eggs on, although they have also been known to hatch on Centranthus, Stellaria and Epilobium.

The hummingbird hawk moth is also known to have a remarkably good memory with individual moths returning to the same flowerbeds every day at about the same time. Again, by including in your borders the plants that they are known to be partial too, you can dramatically increase your chances of these moths visiting your area.

Due to their high energy needs they are strongly attracted to flowers with a plentiful supply of nectar. These would include plants such as the single flowered petunias, honeysuckle, buddleia, red valerian, honeysuckle, jasmine, lilac, Escallonia, and phlox. Sedum spectabile is poplar but not the fancy varieties as they don’t produce enough nectar. Also consider, Nicotiana, native Primula and viola varieties, Syringa, herbacous and bedding Verbena, Echium, and Stachys. Happy fishing!
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25 comments:

Marion said...

I get these gorgeous moths every summer by planting lots of Moonflowers which bloom at dusk and at night. They LOVE these flowers! Blessings!

Beth said...

I can report the this beautiful creature has found my garden and I love getting up close to watch him/her feed. My friend kept telling me that it was a bee but I knew that it wasn't. I just got back from the book store when I found what he/she really is and I'm just so excited when I found that Vibe, that's the name I gave it, was the Hummingbird Hawk. Very beautiful creature. Wow!!! Vibe has travled a very long way to find my backyard!!
Beth, Martindale, Texas

Anonymous said...

I just ran into one here in Ann Arbor MI 7/2/2011. It had firmly attached itself to a black raspberry (the fruit itself not the flower!). It didn't move until it was done eating and I was picking berries all around it. They are totally awesome!

Anonymous said...

I am a statistic of mistaken identity... We placed a hummingbird feeder outside in hopes to have one bless us with its visit. One evening my daughter and I were out last week after a hot 90 degree day, evening fell and behold there was a hummingbird not 12" from my daughters leg getting nectar from a tulip, or at least I was half right, it was a hummingbird hawk moth, and not one but up to three of them.. We are thrilled to a new level to have these visitors in our garden. I hope the Nikon D700 comes in handy.

Kenton, Ohio 43326 July 10, 2011

Donna said...

I also thought at first that it was a hummingbird but could tell something was off. This is the first I ever saw them. They started coming to my patio hanging baskets about a week ago. I have petunias and pansies surrounding my patio and they have come back every night for about a week. Very beautiful. I am in eastern PA.

Anonymous said...

We live in Onalaska, WI and just saw a Hummingbird Hawkmoth flying around our daylilies, stargazer lilies and tall phlox. We were mystified!

Anonymous said...

We saw one at
Castle Rock County Park in Wisconsin
















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Anonymous said...

Bee balm is an amazing Hummingbird Hawk Moth attractant!! Sometimes we have 15-20 at a time!!! It's an incredible sight!

charl8sweb said...

My daughter and I saw one of these tonight feeding on bee balm in our perennial garden. I was amazed to say the least. I've seen just about everything on the farm or so I thought! We live in Eastern Iowa; this is a first for me. Fascinating! My daughter laughed at my response of "WHAT is it? I've never seen ANYTHING like it!!" Really cool.
Racquel, Cedar Rapids, IA

Anonymous said...

Plainwell,MI I've been watching them on my butterfly bush and flocks. What beautiful little creatures they are

Susan said...

This is the first summer I have noticed the hummingbird hawk moth. It prefers the wonderfully fragrant tall phlox. At first I thought it was just another hummingbird, but on closer inspection I realized it was something much rarer.
Susan
Boone, NC

Anonymous said...

A Hummingbird Hawk moth visits our Butterfly bush here in Norwalk, CT.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I spotted one just this morning in one of our petunia planters here in Pottsboro, TX. What an amazing creature! Pity I couldn't get a good picture of it.

Anonymous said...

Have seen one several times in the last 2 weeks, seem to really like the moon vines and mexican petunias.
Columbia, SC

Sharon Bertrand Kasper said...

I just saw my first hummingbird hawk moth last evening and again saw one this morning in my front yard. I live in Nacogdoches, Texas. What a beautiful site.

Anonymous said...

The kids and I kept trying to figure out what this cool creature was, we knew it wasn't a hummingbird because it had antennas. There'd have one that comes to our house every night at dusk. When we took a walk around the corner there were a bunch on the day Lillie's. Soo Cool!!
Sweats-derby,Kansas

Anonymous said...

I was coming out of the store today and something in a planter caught my eye. I knew it wasn't a hummingbird because it didn't fly away. I watched it for about 10 minutes. I was in awe and very curious to learn more about it. I immediately researched and discovered that it was a hummingbird hawk moth! I have seen some strange insects here in the mountains of WV, but this is one of the coolest! It truly amazes me and makes me wonder about all of the other creatures in this big, beautiful world that we will never see. I feel lucky to have seen something that I never knew existed. Amazing!

Patricia Haynes said...

Was outside right at dusk...my seven yr old daughter said oooo look it's a hummingbird, come look and I thought it was too....it flew close and around us...and that's when I noticed, it was a big bug....so of course screamed like a girl and ran. (I'm not proud of it) went inside and googled it and found out it was a hummingbird hawk moth. All the years living in Minnesota I've never seen one. They are pretty cool and will be out tommorrow at same time with camera...and no I won't scream and run this time.

Samuel Thayer said...

Saw my first hawk moth at a friends house in Winter Haven, FL last week and had no idea what it was till I researched on web then found this site and blog. What a cool creature!
It let me get so close to watch as it drank necture from my friends flowers and I knew it wasn't a humming bird but it was so similar. I am going to plant some of the suggested plants to see if can create a good habitate for these beautiful moths. I love nature so much and what a gift too have seen this moth!
Love livinin the swamps man!

Tree said...

July 4th 2013 in Essex uk
We were sitting in the garden when my friend said what is that? Whilst researching found out it was the hummingbird hawkmoth wow is this for real in the uk? So beautiful

anonymous said...

Just saw one earlier today on our budliea in not so sunny scotland. Amazing!

cab41 said...

I thought it was a hummingbird drinking from my impatiens but it had antennae and let me get very close for 5 min--couldn't be! Googled it--a hummingbird moth! Amazing here in Iowa.

John Isham said...

Saw one two days ago on the campus of Carthage College (in Kenosha, WI right on the shore of Lake Michigan). Like so many others here, I at first thought it was a hummingbird but was surprised it was letting me get and stay so close to take its picture. Wasn't until today that one of my Facebook friends identified it after noticing the proboscis and antennae.

Mike at Bookham said...

We have just come back from a visit to Staithes North Yorkshire, we were watching butterflies on a Buddlea bush when we noticed this strange creature hovering with its long proboscis, not concerned by us at all. Now we are home I looked it up and found it to be a Hummingbird Hawkmoth it is really lovely to watch, amazing to be so far North so late in the season, but then again there were also lots of Butterflies , whilst down here in Surrey they have all but disappeared
Mike Bookham

Joann Bresciani said...

At a rest stop on US Hwy 287 this weekend, I saw these funny little creatures flitting around the Lantana. The attendant there said he was told they were hummingbirds. I have seen hummingbirds, and these weren't! I Googled it as soon as I reached home, and these amazing little flyers were Hummingbird moths. A first for me, and they were gorgeous!