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The Moth-Off: Readers post their own photos of giant, hummingbird-like moths

The Moth-Off: Readers post their own photos of giant, hummingbird-like moths

You know that old saying in journalism: Write about giant, weird bugs once, and your inbox forevermore will brim with photos of giant, weird bugs.

It’s been two weeks since we covered the appearance of white-lined sphinx moths in the Bay Area, which are out in unusual abundance this year. That’s given readers plenty of time to hustle up their own photos of the giant moths invading their backyards and flitting about in the high Sierra Nevada.

You’ll definitely remember if you’ve seen one of these creatures. They have wingspans of almost 4 inches, can fly at 30 mph and have wingbeats so fast they look identical to hummingbirds. Here’s one fellow that amateur photographer Diane Winkler spotted at Point Reyes National Seashore this August:

A white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata) seen at Point Reyes National Seashore in August, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Diane Winkler) 

Gary Yost made this gorgeous video of a white-lined sphinx moth doing its thing up in the North Bay. “This was the first one that we saw here in Mill Valley a few weeks back, amongst our Mexican sunflowers,” he says. “I took out my iPhone and captured it, then composed some ‘sphinxy’ music to go with the video. Such a beautiful creature. Since then we’ve seen dozens!”

David Ogilvie found a bunch of moths recently hanging out at Stinson Beach. “They came out after sunset, and they were hovering by some fragrant flowers that were growing on a fence. When I first saw them, I thought they were hummingbirds,” he says.

A white-lined sphinx moth in Stinson Beach in 2023. (Courtesy of David Ogilvie) 

And Bruce Beyaert was lucky enough to capture these shots while out in nature. “Hiking the slopes of Kirkwood (Mountain) Resort and the Carson Pass country during the first week of August, my wife, Sandra, and I were surprised and delighted to observe white-lined sphinx moths nectaring,” he reports. “We’d never seen them before during our 60 years of hiking in the Sierra Nevada, but watched perhaps 100 of them in total while hiking in the Kirkwood area and also the Bear Valley area the last week of July.”

A white-lined sphinx moth in the Sierra Nevada in 2023. (Courtesy of Bruce Beyaert) 
A white-lined sphinx moth in the Sierra Nevada in 2023. (Courtesy of Bruce Beyaert) 

As long as these things keep appearing, we’ll keep posting them – send your own photos in, and we’ll add them to this story.