Is it a Hummingbird?
Here's how you can tell the difference:
- The moths are smaller than hummingbirds. Their bodies are usually between 2-3 inches long. Hummingbirds are between 3-4 inches long.
- Hummingbird moths are insects and have long antennae, six legs, and three body parts--head, thorax, and abdomen.
- The moths drink nectar through their proboscis (their tongues) that is rolled up when they're not using it. A hummingbird drinks nectar using it's beak.
- Hummingbird moths have striking patterns on their wings. Typically, hummingbirds do not.
- Moths rest with their wings spread. Hummingbirds fold their wings while perched.
Although you may think it's a hummingbird, if you look closely, it is quite easy to tell the moth from the bird.
Hornworm and Egg
By Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org [CC-BY-3.0-us (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Larry Lamsa (Hummingbird Moth Uploaded by PDTillman) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Hornworm and Egg
How does a Hummingbird Moth grow?
The natural Habitat at CRE supports the life cycles of many plants, animals, and insects. One of the insects found there is the Hummingbird Moth. The Hummingbird moth's life cycle begins as an egg. The female moth lays her eggs on the underside of specific plants. These plants include honeysuckle, hawthorne, apple, four o'clocks, and wild grape. The larvae hatch from the eggs and feed on the leaves of these plants. The larvae of the Hummingbird Moth is called a hornworm, because it has a flexible spine (the horn) on their back end. These are the largest caterpillars found in Colorado. They grow and molt (shed it's skin) until they are 2 to 3 inches long. The most familiar of the hornworms to suburban gardeners is the tomato hornworm--a relative of the Hummingbird moth larvae. When the larvae is ready to pupate, it drops to the ground in search of soft soil to make a cozy place to spin its cocoon. It stays buried in the soil all winter long. When spring finally arrives, the metamorphosis is complete and an adult Hummingbird moth emerges from the cocoon.
Where are Hummingbird Moths found?
Any plant that attracts hummingbirds also attracts the Hummingbird moth. They feed on the nectar of deep lobed flowers.