A bird? A flying bug? A small, fluffy bat? I didn't know what the heck flew past my face the other day. Turns out it was something called a hummingbird moth. They're a thing.

I've never seen one of these things until now and it was freaky enough to make me chirp-scream like a little girl. It came out of nowhere, flew around my head with surprising volume, then twittered around a nearby hanging flower basket.

Now, your brain immediately thinks it's a hummingbird because it LOOKS just like a hummingbird and it SOUNDS just like a hummingbird. But hummingbirds don't fly that incredibly close to humans 99.9% of the time. They are incredibly cool but very startling if you've never encountered one before.

What exactly IS a hummingbird moth and how come I've never seen one before? Apparently it is actually a rarity to see one, so I'm not crazy. According to Animals.com:

One thing that makes these little critters so challenging to spot is that, when people see them, they don't realize what they're looking at.

Even when you're peering at them up close, they can fool you.

A ruby-throated hummingbird is about 3 inches long; a hummingbird moth is about half that.

Like a hummingbird, the moth's body is spindle-shaped, plump in the middle and narrower at the ends -- but if you spot antennae, it's definitely a moth.

The great news is that these moths are completely harmless to humans. They're not going to bite or sting you. They're not poisonous in any way. And no, if they get in the garage or your house they won't eat your clothes.

The only thing you may need to be concerned about is the harm these caterpillars can cause to some of your plants before they transform into adult moths. The moths unfortunately don't eat mosquitoes or anything. Just don't squeal like a little girl when YOU see one buzz by your face. InsectIdentification.org says:

Achemon Sphinx Moths are members of the hawkmoth family. They are large, strong and fast. This species is nocturnal and can be found sipping nectar from a variety of flowers including Japanese honeysuckle, phlox and petunias.

Their wings can beat so quickly that they may be mistaken for a hummingbird. They span most of the North American continent and are on the wing throughout the summer.


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