PEI

Hummingbird moths commonly mistaken for their namesake

If you see something that looks like a hummingbird in your Island garden this summer but has clear wings and is slightly smaller, it's likely a hummingbird moth says a zoologist at the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre in Sackville, N.B.

2 species of hummingbird moths common in Maritimes

Hummingbird moths are more common than people think. (Matthias Rietschel/The Associated Press)

If you see something that looks like a hummingbird in your Island garden this summer but has clear wings and is slightly smaller, it's likely a hummingbird moth says a zoologist at the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre in Sackville, N.B. 

"They're fascinating moths because when they feed they hover like a hummingbird does … and with their straw-like mouth structure they probe flowers for their nectar," said John Klimko. 

A hummingbird moth hovers while it feeds, and it makes a hummingbird-like noise as it rapidly flaps its wings. ( Michael Smith/The Wyoming Tribune Eagle/The Associated Press)

He said they are commonly mistaken for hummingbirds by many people. 

Klimko added there are three species of hummingbird moths but two are more common in the Maritimes. 

The Souris & Area Branch of the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation recently posted a video of a hummingbird moth taken on the Island by Ben Topic in Fortune, P.E.I.

"It's actually a large, daytime-flying moth known, unsurprisingly, as a hummingbird moth," reads the post. "Pretty cool!"

Bigger group

"They belong to a bigger group of moths called the hawk moth or sphinx moth." 

Klimko said many of those moths are nocturnal and often visit the flowers at night. 

A hummingbird moth drinks nectar from flowers. (Ferdinand Ostrop/The Associated Press)

"There's a common weedy plant called bouncing bet that is quite attractive to a lot of species so if you're out at night, on a warm summer's evening with a head lamp or a flashlight, you might be able to see a moth exhibiting the same behaviour as hummingbirds do in the daytime in your garden." 

Klimko said anyone who does get a good look at a hummingbird moth will see it doesn't have a beak but something that looks like a thread sticking out the front. 

"They don't make any sounds … and if you actually see one not flying you can tell that their wings are clear, or mostly clear." 

With files from Nancy Russell

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