Mariton: Hummingbird Moth

July 24, 2013

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus

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This Hummingbird Clearwing (Hermanis thysbe) also loves the nectar of Bergamot and other flowers.  If you have ever seen one of these moths in action you will know how it came to be named after a bird.

While smaller than a hummingbird, this moth’s appearance and actions have confused people.  Neither the moth, or bird stay still long for study.  Both zoom from flower to flower to get nectar.  We commonly think of moths as being most active at night.  The Hummingbird Moth, however, is busy during the day. 

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The bergamot and other flowers in Mariton’s fields attract the adults.  Yet, like butterflies, they must also find plant hosts on which to lay eggs, so their caterpillars will have a food source while growing.  I checked out David L. Wagner’s Caterpillars of Eastern North America  to discover that viburnums are the major food plant.  We have several different native viburnum species at Mariton.  This is an interesting species and worth a walk up the hill to find.