Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

July 9, 2015
White-lined sphinx moths often mistaken for hummingbirds

The white-lined sphinx moth, also referred to as the hummingbird moth, is tremendous in size and often is mistaken for a hummingbird due to their habitual flight and feeding similarities.

Like a hummingbird, the white-lined sphinx moth possesses a rapid wing beat that enables it to both hover and sip nectar in midflight. Because of the energetic effort it takes to maintain its flight, the white-lined sphinx moth pursues various flowers that store lots of sugars and water. These flowers can include honeysuckles, lilacs, petunias, orchids, evening primrose and larkspurs.

White-lined sphinx moths also can be hard to distinguish from hummingbirds due to dim lighting, as they are primarily nocturnal and pursue nectar mainly at dusk, dawn, or night. Although they can occasionally be seen during the daytime, it is not as common. When hovering and preparing to feed, the white-lined sphinx moth extends its unusually long proboscises to reach the nectar. While their proboscises can sometimes exceed the length of 10 inches, their body length can range from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches, with a wingspan from 2 1/2 to more than five inches.

Like most moths during the summer, white-lined sphinx moths are attracted to outdoor lights and can sometimes be spotted loitering nearby during the night. Despite its size, the white-lined sphinx moth is harmless and cannot bite nor inflict humans. It inhabits much of North America, mainly amongst deserts, open land, suburbs and gardens. They are especially attracted to scented flowers. The white-lined sphinx moth belongs to the family of Sphingidae, which is a family of moths that includes approximately 1,450 different species, commonly known as hawk moths, sphinx moths and hornworms.

 

Taylor Lindsay is a writer and photographer of wildlife creatures big and small. She can be contacted at CritterChatter@live.com.

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