Our lantana is in full bloom, attracting many kinds of butterflies. I saw what looked to be a very small hummingbird, but it proved to be a moth, the Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thybe).

Hummingbird Clearwing

This moth looks and acts like a hummingbird. It’s small, about an inch long, with a body covered in what looks like olive downy feathers on the front half of the body, and dark stubby tail feathers on the back half.

Hummingbird Clearwing

Its wings are hard to see because they beat so fast, but the camera slows it down enough so that you can see that they are clear with a dark reddish brown outer edge, which identifies it as H. thybe. It flies very much like a hummingbird, hovering in place, shifting forward and backward, up and down, left and right with complete control, just like a hummingbird. It can fly extraordinarily fast.

Hummingbird Clearwing

It uses its long proboscis to sample the flowers, much like a hummingbird uses its bill. The two obvious clues that it is an insect and not a hummingbird are the slender black antennae and the six black legs.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, this species is common throughout the eastern United States, but it is more common in the midwest and northeast than in Georgia. Florida has many reports, though. It is a member of the hawkmoth or Sphingidae family, which have shockingly large caterpillars. Tomato Hornworms are another member of this family and are voracious pests, although the Hummingbird Clearwing is not.