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Article: Hummingbird Pollinators: Hummingflies

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Forum: Article: Hummingbird PollinatorsReplies: 4, Views: 46
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June 16, 2009
9:36 PM

Post #6697186

Thanks for this diversely interesting article; especially for the photos.

In all the years we have been abroad (30 and counting now), one of the things I do miss most about America (but always forget when one asks that question, as a socio-politico-economic content is always implied and inferred) is/are hummingbirds.

Almost all American vegetables have become staples (and even, curiously, identifiers) of European or Asian cuisines. American flowers of garden interest have populated the world, many of them subject to rigorous hybridization programmes in Asia & Europe.

But there are no hummingbirds outside the Americas.

I look for them at my MIL's feeders whenever we visit. And a favorite mountain resort and fly-fishing destination in Washington State is also a favorite haunt of these fast little birds.

But there are no hummingbirds outside the Americas.

Since we have established a real garden here in France, however, we have become well acquainted with what we call "hummingflies". The first time I saw one, i thought it was a baby hummingbird, but then I learned that there are no hummingbirds outside the Americas. I suspect it is a "hoverfly"; but I have searched DG Insect Files with the "hoverfly" search term and found nothing that looks at all like this. My low-resolution digital camera cannot catch it; but I am certain it is some sort of "hoverfly" that has a hugely extensive nectar-drinking tongue and looks like a miniature hummingbird ----- a sweet reminder of a good bit of "home".

They are feeding on the sage now, but will move on to the lavender as it becomes more floriferous.
I wish I knew what they are.
They are not just pollinating our flowers, but our imaginations and our memories, as well.


South Hamilton, MA

June 16, 2009
11:24 PM

Post #6697658

There is an insect here known as the humminbird moth--don't know the scientific name. Are thery similar to your hover flies?


Mount Laurel, NJ
(Zone 7a)

June 17, 2009
12:05 AM

Post #6697854

Hi Jim, I was thinking the same thing as IrisMA ... that perhaps your sitings of the hummingflies could be Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum). When I first saw one here, I thought it was a baby hummingbird too. And they are super fast! I've never gotten a decent photo of one. Here is a link to a person who got a photo in France:

Wikipedia has more information too and a photo taken in France. Do you think this could be what they are?

Happy and Healthy Gardening,

June 17, 2009
9:00 AM

Post #6699510

Well, it sure does look a lot like that photo, Diana, but it is both hard to tell the scale of the photo (and my little guys are certainly small) and to see if my "hummers" have two wings or four because they never sit still!

After looking at various entries in Wikipedia, I'm inclined to think they are probably Hemaris fuciformis". Thanks to you both, Diana and Iris, for leading me to this!



Mount Laurel, NJ
(Zone 7a)

June 17, 2009
1:38 PM

Post #6700113

You're quite welcome; Iris guessed it, I just seconded the motion. Maybe one of these days you'll see your possible Hemaris fuciformis slow down long enough to verify its identification. Good luck and have a great summer!

Be well,

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Other Article: Hummingbird Pollinators Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
thank you! onewish1 14 Jun 17, 2009 1:24 PM
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