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

Sphinx moths, nearly 4 inches across and as fast as 30 mph, are out in unusual abundance this year.

You know the old adage in journalism: Write about giant, weird bugs once, and your inbox will be filled with photos of giant, weird bugs for the rest of your life.

It’s been two weeks since we reported on the arrival of white-lined sphinx moths in the Bay Area, which are in unusually high numbers this year. That’s given readers plenty of time to snap photos of the massive moths invading their backyards and flitting around in the high Sierra Nevada.

If you’ve ever seen one of these creatures, you’ll remember it. They have wingspans of nearly 4 inches, can fly at 30 mph, and have wingbeats that are so fast that they resemble hummingbirds. Diane Winkler, an amateur photographer, spotted this fellow at Point Reyes National Seashore in August:

Gary Yost captured this stunning video of a white-lined sphinx moth in the North Bay. “We saw the first one a few weeks ago here in Mill Valley, among our Mexican sunflowers,” he says. “I took out my iPhone and recorded it, then composed some’sphinxy’ music to accompany it.” What a lovely creature. We’ve seen dozens since then!”

David Ogilvie recently discovered a swarm of moths at Stinson Beach. “They appeared after sunset, hovering near some fragrant flowers growing on a fence.” “At first, I thought they were hummingbirds,” he says.

And Bruce Beyaert was fortunate to capture these images while out in nature. “My wife, Sandra, and I were surprised and delighted to observe white-lined sphinx moths nectaring while hiking the slopes of Kirkwood (Mountain) Resort and the Carson Pass country during the first week of August,” he says. “We’d never seen them before in our 60 years of hiking in the Sierra Nevada, but we saw maybe 100 of them in total while hiking in the Kirkwood and Bear Valley areas the last week of July.”

We’ll keep posting them as long as these things appear – send us your own photos, and we’ll include them in this story.

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