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Old 09-02-2009, 05:17 PM   #1
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hummer Get Into Nature: The truth about 'baby hummingbirds'

Get Into Nature: The truth about 'baby hummingbirds'
Sunday, August 09, 2009
By Scott Shalaway

Get Into Nature: The truth about 'baby hummingbirds'
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Every summer I get calls and e-mails about "baby hummingbirds." They look, fly and feed like hummers, so it's a logical question. Except that when hummers leave the nest, they are adult-sized. If it's smaller than a hummer, it's probably a hummingbird moth.

Hummingbird moths are a type of sphinx moth. Often readers send me detailed descriptions and sometimes photos of a strange hummingbird-like creature. Most report that it's fuzzy, looks like a bee, has antenna, and a long beak. Such detailed accounts, coupled with its habit of hovering above flowers while feeding, make identification easy.

About 100 species of sphinx moths inhabit North America. Most are active late in the day and after dark, when they sip the nectar of tubular flowers that remain open at night. In return for the meal, sphinx moths pollinate the flowers. The "beak" is actually a long, flexible tube (the proboscis) that stays coiled under the head when the moth is not feeding.
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:24 AM   #2
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Seems these Sphinx Moths are quite interesting: Some gather nectar during the day and others prefer to pollinate at night. While the Article named five or so of the family there are literally dozens.

So I'll be building a trellis for Virginia Creeper which if the Moths don't find it then it will serve as a stop for bees and supply berries through the winter.
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Old 01-16-2014, 08:47 AM   #3
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Quote:
Seems these Sphinx Moths are quite interesting:
Oh they are! Did you ever see one live? They really do remind one of a hummer. They're beautiful little creatures yet a bit skidish.
If you ever see one flitting about and wish to take photos of it.... Take note of the flowers they're visiting and move into position by one not so close to it with your camera "also" near your face (if you look through a view finder). If you're lucky, and don't move..... it just might continue its way over and feed right in front of you!
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Old 01-16-2014, 08:49 PM   #4
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I remember seeing them (possibly for the first time) at a nursery where I used to work. I'd love to have a population of them here in the yard.
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Old 01-17-2014, 12:24 AM   #5
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Seems the Sphinx Moths are in kind of a Jam: They come out at night and are distracted by the many lights we burn till dawn. That may be why you saw one at the nursery.

Some lay their eggs on Elms and Cherry

Another favorite is the Black Haw Viburnum

Of course there's one that visits the nightshade family and I've seen the Horn worm cats on tomato plants which is considered the Northern type and the Horn worm found on Tobacco plants is considered the Southern variety.

One Sphinx Moth even lays it's eggs on the Paw Paw tree. I wonder if the adult

can pollinate the Paw Paw too?
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Old 01-17-2014, 07:34 AM   #6
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We've been fortunate enough to get quite a few "hummingbird moths" every year. Like the hummers themselves, they like lonicera sempervirens (and buddleia, which I have to confess we've not gotten around to taking out because the one in front of the window is so lively every summer).
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Old 01-17-2014, 08:02 AM   #7
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I've never seen a hummingbird moth (Hemaris thysbe) but the Snowberry clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) is a common visitor. Here's one nectaring on rose verbena in the terrace garden. The larger hummingbird moth would be very cool to see!
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Old 01-17-2014, 10:14 AM   #8
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I get hummingbird moths on butterfly bushes.
sprucetree Do moths like Virginia creeper? I have seen virginia creeper mentioned in this forum several times. I have lots of it that just grew here. I let it grow on my pasture fence. It grows frequently with poison ivy.
sphinx moths are so beautiful. Every once in a while I will see a pink and brown one in the evening.
I read that lights are bad for lightening bugs too. This is a good reminder for me. I have a motion light to stay on for 6 hours at night. I need to set it so it will stay off I think.
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Old 01-17-2014, 03:33 PM   #9
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Good point on lights EllenW. While we live in an "subrural" area (not really exurb or suburb but not truly rural either I think) we don't use exterior lights at all unless we are grilling out in the short days of winter or waiting for our late night wandering children to come home. Some of our neighbors seem to like those big bright barn lights to burn all night as if they are afraid of the dark. They don't own any livestock so I don't know why they use them. We used to use those low voltage landscape lights along our front sidewalk between the front door and the driveway but gave those up as well. Just a front porch light when we go out at night serves the purpose.

We get to see some lovely starry skies on a clear night and appreciate the fireflies too! Light pollution is a serious problem that I've come to be more attuned to.
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Old 01-17-2014, 04:06 PM   #10
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People have those big spotlights on their garages here. I have motion lights all around My house for security. If the wind or animals turn them on too much I turn them off. They built a development of big homes behind me. They leave lots of lights on outside their houses
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