The Blog

Good vs. Evil- The Humingbird Moth

Good vs. evil- the hummingbird moth. If you have ever seen one of these beautiful, graceful insects, you have probably been as fascinated as I am with them or scared out of your mind because you were not sure what it was. As beautiful as they may be, there is a darker side. Before they turn into the beauties that they are as you see them in flight, their caterpillar form can be quite destructive.

If you know what I am talking about when I say “hornworm”, then you know the destruction that can ensue in their wake. Tomato hornworms are known for their destruction of tomato plants. However, they will morph into the graceful Hawk Moth. Or, the tobacco hornworm, destroying tobacco plants and angering farmers for ages, will morph into the gorgeously colored Sphinx Moth. 

Two Clearwing Hummingbird moths are very commonly seen around your butterfly bushes in the summer. Both originate from a green hornworm with only subtle differences in the appearance of each. One will morph into a snowberry clearwing A.K.A Bumble Bee Moth. They are specific to a snowberry plant as their host and the caterpillars can do some damage. The other clearwing is a Common Clearwing that is very common in the area during the late summer. However, the caterpillars are not as picky about a host. They will eat honeysuckle (lonicera), hawthorns, cherry trees, and plum trees along with European cranberry.

So, Yes, hummingbird moths of all sorts are very graceful and beautiful to watch. However, their caterpillar stage can be quite destructive. So as with most things beautiful in this world, there is a dark side. We hope you can find a way to co-exist with these lovely creatures. However, we are sure that farmers whose livelihood depends on exemplary crops may find it hard to see the positive. We get it. But, in a perfect world, we all co-exist without issue. 

I simply wanted to let you know that there is indeed darkness to the beauty.  But, please, before you go swatting at these harmless moths, understand that in their moth form, they are harmless and beneficial as pollinators. It is only in their short-lived caterpillar stage that they do any damage. And, to be fair, aren’t we all just a little destructive?

D. Ellen Kincer