A few years ago, I was photographing a flower in my backyard, when a strange creature flew in front of me. It was much larger than a bee, too small to be a bird, and looked a bit like an imagined creature from a movie.
It didn’t attack me, nor did it seem interested in eating me (both of which I tend to assess quickly in wildlife), so I turned my lens toward it and captured as many frames as I could before it zoomed away.
Viewing those photos on my computer screen moments later, I was just as confused about what I was seeing. It had a fuzzy green body with brown and clear wings that had been flapping rapidly the whole time. Protruding from the front of its face was a long, curled — tongue/snout/antennae — something.
I forget what magic words I typed into Google that produced similar images of something called a hummingbird moth. A member of the moth family, this creature flutters its wings quickly and demonstrates flight characteristics similar to those of a hummingbird. Pretty accurate name.
I haven’t seen anything like it since. Until two weeks ago. I was, once again, photographing flowers in my yard (different yard, different town), and saw what I thought was a butterfly sitting atop a coneflower. I moved in close, zoomed in closer and took a few photos, at which point I realized, this was no butterfly. Its body was too large for that. And was that fuzz?
Examining the photos on the screen, I recognized the same characteristics: fuzzy greenish body, brown wings, long something-or-other protruding from its face. Sure enough, it was a hummingbird moth.
Just the other day, I was visited by two more at my picnic table during a lunch break at work. Perhaps they are my spirit animal of the moment.