What looks like a combination of a bumble bee and a hummingbird and a skipper? I certainly didn’t know as I began taking photos of this creature in the ligustrum bush.
At first I thought it was an oversized bumble. But I soon realized that it never held still. Rather than folding its wings while nectaring, it hovered like a hummingbird. Then I saw its tongue, which unwrapped like a roll of toilet paper and reminded me of a skipper. Then I saw the antennae, which were straight and looked nothing like those on a bee.
A name came to me before I looked it up: hawk moth. I had seen pictures of these before, but never saw one in person. So I looked up hawk moth and there is was! And no wonder I was confused, these behemoths are often called “bumble bee moths” because they look like what?
The hawk moths are in the Sphingidae family and are listed as important pollinators. The one I photographed was probably Hemaris diffinis—common throughout our region according to Insects of the Pacific Northwest by Haggard and Haggard (2006).
The honey bees working the ligustrum had been chasing off other pollinators, but not this one. They give it first dibs on everything it touched. Sort of like a bank, this moth is just too big to fail.