Hummingbird Moth

The first time I saw it, I wasn’t sure I wanted to stick around. Flying insects sometimes come across as bullies, willing to defend their space with actions causing me discomfort, let’s say. Dr. Katie Kilmer, an associate professor of biology and environmental health at Missouri Southern State University, assures me hummingbird moths do not bite or sting, though she recommends giving them space as they work at pollinating since they are wild insects. “They are very fun to watch,” Kilmer says, “and can provide lots of entertainment as they buzz around, collecting nectar.”

The moth mates in summer and lays eggs that hatch into larvae. When fully grown in late summer to fall, the larvae spin a loose cocoon and pupate within the leaf litter on the ground. They overwinter as a pupae and will emerge as adults the following spring, usually early April.

words + photograph JULIE JOHNSON

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