Backyard Birding: Hummingbird Moths

Hummingbirds aren’t the only visitors to hummingbird feeders. Downy Woodpeckers, orioles, and even some warblers are frequent visitors. Bats, squirrels, raccoons, and other mammals have a sweet tooth. Bees, wasps, and ants may also show up. And every now and then, a moth that looks surprisingly hummingbird-like appears.

Several different species of nectar-feeding moths are all called “hummingbird moths” for their similar habits and even similar appearance to hummingbirds. Being moths, they don’t have a bird’s beak, but they roll their mouth parts in and out of the nectar. Moths have antennae; these can appear quite feather-like on many species, including some hummingbird moths, but unlike birds, lack any actual feathers. Hummingbird moths have large dark eyes that look very birdlike, especially from a distance.

Bees, wasps, and ants can become a nuisance at hummingbird feeders, both for people and for hummingbirds, but hummingbird moths don’t cause problems for us or hummers. If you’re lucky enough to spot one, sit back and enjoy!