Hummingbird moths primarily feed on nectar. They have long, thin proboscis (tongue) that allows them to reach deep into flower blossoms and access the nectar. They also eat some pollen and are known to feed on the sap of trees and the sap-sucking bugs that live in the tree.
Hummingbird moths play an important role when it comes to pollination and they are crucial to the reproduction of many different plants and flowers. They visit a variety of flowers during their pollination and help spread pollen, allowing plants to produce fruits, vegetables and all possible products that come from flowering plants.
DID YOU KNOW
Up to 98% of flowering plants rely on pollinators such as hummingbird moths for their reproduction.
What Are Hummingbird Moths?
Hummingbird moths are small moths in the family Sphingidae. They have long thin wings that look like a hummingbird’s wings and are pollinators like hummingbirds. They are often seen hovering over flowers while they feed on nectar, similar to the way hummingbirds do.
They feed on flowers during the day and rest at night. They are found in North America, northern Mexico, and parts of South America. The most common species are the hummingbird clearwing and snowberry clearwing moths.
Some of their benefits include providing pollination of flowers and also providing a source of food for birds and other predators.
Benefits of Hummingbird Moths:
- Provide pollination of flowers
- Provide a source of food for birds and other predators
- Have long thin wings that look like hummingbird’s wings
- Feed on flowers during the day and rest at night
- Can be found in North America, Mexico, and parts of South America
- Can coexist in the same areas as hummingbirds
- Help keep garden pests away
- Eat less nectar than hummingbirds
- Can fly longer distances than hummingbirds
- Provide a unique and interesting sight of nature.
In short: What Do Hummingbird Moths Eat?
Hummingbird moths feed on nectar and pollen from a variety of flowers and plants. They use their long proboscis (tongue) to reach into flowers to seek out nectar. Some of their favorites include phlox, catchfly, bergamot, red clover, thistle, bee balm, and house leek.
Hummingbird moths also feed on sap and use their scaly feet to pick up pollen from flower blossoms while they feed. Other foods they enjoy include rotting fruit, dung, and occasionally the juice found inside aphids, the larvae of flies, and the nectar of species-specific flowers.
What Do They Eat During Different Life Stages?
The diet of a hummingbird varies depending on the species and the season. During the breeding season, hummingbirds eat an energy-rich diet of insects, small spiders, and nectar from flowers and sucrose solutions.
During migration and winter, some species depend more on protein-rich insects like fruit fly larvae, spiders, and wasps. In the warmer months, they also eat small flying insects such as mosquitoes and small moths.
In different life stages, hummingbirds eat:
- Nectar from flowers and sucrose solutions: Hummingbirds feed on the sweet nectar of flowers and sucrose solutions while they are breeding and migrating.
- Insects: During migration and winter, some species of hummingbirds eat mostly insects. These include fruit fly larvae, spiders, and wasps.
- Small flying insects: During the warmer months, hummingbirds also consume small flying insects such as mosquitoes and small moths.
- Spiders: Hummingbirds often feed on small spiders, especially during the colder months.
- Bee product: During the breeding season, many hummingbirds feed on bee products, such as bee larvae and bee pupae.
- Sap: Some species of hummingbirds feed on tree sap during the winter and migration periods.
- Fruit: During the warmer months, hummingbirds will also eat small fruits, such as raspberries and
Do Hummingbird Moths Have Any Natural Predators?
Hummingbird moths have several natural predators, such as birds, spiders, assassin bugs, wasps, and bats. Depending on the species, hummingbird moths may also be vulnerable to predation from skunks, raccoons, coyotes, cats, and foxes. They can be particularly vulnerable to predators when in the caterpillar stage or during pupation.
To protect themselves, these moths may use camouflage to blend in with their surroundings or behave erratically in the air. Other behaviors they use to avoid predation include covering themselves in dirt or other materials and taking rest during the day in hiding places.
Natural predators of hummingbird moths include:
- Assassin bugs
What Kind of Flowers Do They Prefer?
Hummingbirds prefer tubular flowers for their long beaks and tongues to reach their nectar. These flowers are typically red, orange, or yellow, and include favorites such as columbine, honeysuckle, cardinal flower, and petunia. Common plants they will feed from include salvia and phlox.
The following are five important considerations when choosing flowers for hummingbirds:
- Color: Look for bright colors like red, orange and yelllow.
- Tube shape: Tubular shaped flowers with long throats like columbine, honeysuckle, petunia and cardinal flower are preferred.
- Size: Hummingbirds prefer flowers with a diameter of ½ – 1 inch.
- Nectar: Choose nectar-rich flowers that hummingbirds are drawn to.
- Location: Plant flowerbeds in places where hummingbirds are likely to visit – near water sources, in well-lit open areas and where plants don’t interfere with buildings/trees.
Are Hummingbird Moths Attracted to Artificial Feeders?
Hummingbird moths are often attracted to artificial feeders, depending on the type of feeders and the environment.
Generally, hummingbird moths will be attracted to feeders with multiple nectar sources and a variety of colors. To attract hummingbirds moths, it is important to maintain feeders and refill them regularly with nectar.
Hummingbird moths can also be attracted to feeders that offer a variety of plants and flowers to give them both food and shelter.
Aside from artificial feeders, some of the following factors can also attract hummingbird moths:
Use of bright lights and attractive colors: Hummingbird moths can be attracted to bright lights or certain hues of colors.
Availability of food and water: Hummingbird moths are most likely to be attracted to feeders with sweet and plentiful nectar sources.
Creating a hospitable environment: Gardeners should maintain a hummingbird-friendly environment by ensuring there is enough shade as well as flowering plants in the garden.
Use of decoys: Decoys, such as rubber snakes or other colorful visuals, can be used to attract hummingbird moths.
Appropriate temperature: Hummingbird moths will like areas with the optimum temperature for their species, which is usually from 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do Hummingbird Moths Need Water?
No, hummingbird moths do not need water. The adult moths obtain all the water they need from the nectar they feed on. While they do not need to drink standing water, they do need a helping hand in providing habitats with appropriate sources of food, such as flowers and shrubs.
The key factors that help provide water to hummingbird moths are:
- Nature reserves and gardens which provide adequate sources of food
- Pollution-free environment which promotes growth of food sources
- Availability of flower nectar which acts as a natural source of water
- Shade and shelter in the form of vegetation that helps in escaping hot weather
- Development of nearby wetlands which produce extra water
- Provision of nesting sites for hummingbirds
- Dense shrubs and vegetation which provide a cool environment
- Proper drainage systems which can capture and store water
- Access to water bodies like ponds, streams, rivers, etc., to feed on
- Proper sunlight and humidity which helps in the growth and nourishment of plants.
What type of food do hummingbird moths eat?
Hummingbird moths primarily feed on flower nectar and plant sap. They may also feed on the sap from small fruit trees and ornamental shrubs.
Do hummingbird moths have preferences for certain flowers to eat from?
Yes, hummingbird moths have preferences for certain flowers, favoring those with large amounts of nectar and an easily accessible landing pad for their feet. Examples include Dill, Hollyhock, Hollyhock sunflower, Snapdragon, and Turk’s cap Lily.
Is it safe to have hummingbird moths in the garden?
Yes, hummingbird moths are safe to have in the garden as they feed on nectar and not on plants or crops. They also can be beneficial to pollinators and other beneficial insects.
Are hummingbird moths attracted to hummingbird feeders?
Hummingbird moths may be attracted to the nectar in hummingbird feeders, but they cannot drink from it as hummingbirds do. The moths will sip at the nectar instead of lapping it up, making it difficult to consume.
Can hummingbird moths be found in all parts of the world?
Hummingbird moths can be found throughout most parts of North America, Europe, and western Asia. They can also be found in South Africa and some parts of Australia.
In conclusion, hummingbird moths have a crucial role in pollination. With their long, thin proboscis, they are able to access nectar, pollen and sap-sucking bugs from a variety of flowers and plants. Hummingbird moths are essential for the reproduction and production of fruits, vegetables and all other products from flowering plants.