All of My Faults Are Stress Related

I’ve been trying to get some xeriscaping established this summer, and I’ve been very pleased with the plants that are growing. This one, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, is supposed to become a groundcover, and it’s spreading quite well. But with the flowers have come some interesting pollinating… things… that I can’t identify.

i-9bc561903248ba2c261db00ede80312c-weird pollinating moth thing.jpg

The leaves in the picture are about a centimeter or two across, so that thing is pretty big. It moves like a hummingbird, hovering in place and then zipping to another flower. (In fact, when my kid was buzzed by one recently, he swore it had been a hummingbird.) It’s got a long proboscis… thing… and antennae. My guess was some kind of a moth, but I’ve never seen anything like it.

I’ve seen it a number of times in the evening, but that’s when we’re out watering. I don’t know if it pollinates during the day or not.

Whatever it is, it’s cool, and I’m happy to have it hanging out in my garden.

(Photo credit: my other half.)

[Edit: my other half googled “bug that looks like a hummingbird” and found this: white-lined sphinx moth, aka “hummingbird moth”. So I guess he didn’t have to ask me to put the picture on the blog after all…]


  1. #1 Spidergrackle
    August 21, 2009

    Definitely a moth of some type. Don’t know what type.

  2. #2 DRK
    August 21, 2009

    It’s a hawk moth! I love them so, and miss them since we no longer live in Colorado. I think it’s Hiles lineata, the white-lined sphinx moth — but I am not a qualified entomologist, so I will defer to practically anyone else’s expert judgment…

  3. #3 "GrrlScientist"
    August 21, 2009

    that is a hawkmoth, also known as a sphinx moth. this particular specimen is a White-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata).

  4. #4 romunov
    August 21, 2009

    Check out While it’s based on European species, it may, in some cases, apply to your case. Search under the family Sphingidae.

  5. #5 Don Cates
    August 22, 2009
  6. #7 Don in Rochester MN
    August 22, 2009

    I’d call it a “hummingbird moth” because one day I was in the vacant lot next door and there was a “Weekly Reader” magazine laying there with an article about them. When I looked up from the magazine, there was one right there pollinating a flower. That was the first and last time I’d ever seen one or read about one until now.

  7. #8 Lost Geologist
    August 22, 2009

    I only found one match in my butterfly book from 1983. If they are indeed the same, then the name is Celerio lineata, one of the few kinds of butterflies that occur almost world-wide. But I have to admit I am totally untrained with identifying any kind of insects.

  8. #9 Dior
    August 22, 2009

    Grrlscientist has it. I confirm her id.

  9. #10 Rob Jase
    August 22, 2009

    Hummingbird moth of some type. They’re amazing to watch – just slightly smaller than female hummingbirds, their flight is an almost perfect match (even hovering!).

  10. #11 Lockwood
    August 22, 2009

    Silver Fox had a post on these back in May. I had never heard of them before that, but they are impressive. I’d love to see one IRL.

  11. #12 Martin
    August 22, 2009

    Aren’t these amazing? I remember the first time I saw a hummingbird moth (not the white-line sphinx moth you saw, but a related variety). I was VERY disappointed when I realized it wasn’t a real hummingbird.

    This is probably what I saw, and as you see it looks very much like a Ruby-throated hummingbird: .

  12. #13 Silver Fox
    August 23, 2009

    Here’s the one we saw south of Goldfield, NV, earlier this year – hummingbird moth or white-lined sphinx moth.

  13. #14 Leni
    August 30, 2009

    Wow! What a neat moth!

  14. #15 Gaythia
    September 3, 2009

    Sphinx moths are common on Colorado’s front range. As visitors to the flower garden, they are lovely.

    But before you get too enthusiastic about how lovely they are, you need to know that they start out life in the larval stage as tomato hornworms, which can get up to 4 inches or so long and are major munchers of tomato, potato and pepper plants.

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