A moth, not a hummingbird

A moth that looks like a tiny bird! India does not have Hummingbirds, those tiny creatures of the light and air that so delight those living or visiting abroad, especially the western coast of America. Our smallest birds are our Sunbirds and Flowerpeckers.


Reliable, useful journalism needs your support.

Over 600 readers have donated over the years, to make articles like this one possible. We need your support to help Citizen Matters sustain and grow. Please do contribute today. Donate now


However, even in urban gardens, one may find oneself looking at something that seems remarkably like a Hummingbird, and yet seems different. In India, this probably means that one is looking at a Hummingbird Hawk Moth! The scientific name for this small creature is Macroglossum stellatarum. They belong to the family called “Sphingidae”.

Pic: Deepa Mohan

In our country, these moths can be found in the northern parts of the country during summer, and in the south, too, in winter. The moth’s long proboscis and its hovering behaviour, accompanied by an audible humming noise, make it look remarkably like a hummingbird while feeding on flowers.

Pic: Deepa Mohan

It flies during the day, especially in bright sunshine, but also at sunset and sunrise…, and even in the rain!

Pic: Deepa Mohan

Hummingbird hawk-moths have been seen as a lucky omen! The British forces saw them flying on D-Day during the Second World War, and took it to be a sign of victory, which eventually proved true.

Pic: Deepa Mohan

These moths are particularly fond of nectar-rich flowers and they can be seen feeding on flowers such as marigolds (which was where I took these photographs). Here is a short video I took, of this unusual moth that looks like a tiny bird: 

So…the next time, during these winter months, you hear a humming sound near the garden flowers…look closely and see if there is a Hummingbird Hawk Moth around to delight you!

Related Articles

Damsels dancing in nature!
Bangalore’s first eBirder meet
Finding the hidden birds in urban green spaces


WE WANT TO THANK YOU
for reading Citizen Matters, of course. It would be fantastic to be able to thank you for supporting us as well. For 12 years we have strived to bring you trustworthy and useful information about our cities. Because informed citizens are crucial to make a better city. Support Citizen Matters today.

DONATE NOW



About Deepa Mohan 152 Articles
Deepa Mohan is a freelance writer and avid naturalist.