What's a hummingbird moth?
Look, on that flower - it's a hummingbird! It's a butterfly! No, it's a hummingbird moth!
Yes, there really is such a thing a hummingbird moth. Members of the scientific genus Hemaris, they are big, furry moths belong to a class known as clearwing moths, as unlike other moths and butterflies, their wings have clear, window-like panes instead of scales. The robust, colorful bodies are flocked with thick hair, which, combined with their size and speed, makes many people mistake them for hummingbirds. These beautiful, fascinating creatures are actually quite common in the summer, and they love to feed on butterfly bushes, along with a wide variety of flowering annuals, perennials, and shrubs.
Their life cycles is a bit different than other butterflies and hummingbirds: they spend their larval stage as a smooth, thick, hairless caterpillar, and then spend their pupal stage in reddish-brown cases in the soil or leaf litter below the plant they were feeding on. Then the moth emerges, dries its wings, and goes off in search of a meal of sweet nectar.
There are two species of hummingbird moths that are found in eastern North America: the snowberry clearwing, Hemaris diffinis, and the hummingbird clearwing, Hemaris thysbe. Attracting them to your garden is easy: plant plenty of flowers to feed the adults, as well as the preferred food sources for the caterpillars, diervilla and coralberry.