I plant flowers and shrubs that are appealing to birds, bees and butterflies. A few years ago, I planted Bee Balm for the hummingbirds. They love it! Yesterday I noticed two “odd” insects feeding at the Bee Balm and the nearby Phlox.
They are called Hummingbird Moths. It was hard to get a good pic of them as just like hummingbirds, they are in constant movement. According to link to the Forest Service, they also like Phlox. I happen to have Phlox planted next to the Bee Balm so they may think they stumbled on a smorgasbord. Per the Forest Service pics, I think the two I saw are the Snowberry Clearwing version.
A word of caution if planning to install Bee Balm – that’s not mentioned in plant web sites. The above plant started as a small single 3″ plant pot. In the 3 years since, I’ve had to divide, give away, plant in other places, as it spreads quite a bit after it’s cut down when the flowers subside. I didn’t know it spread like that! So my suggestions are:
- Put it in a spot where it can be visible during its blooming time which is 3-4 weeks on either side of July 4. It’s VERY spectacular.
- Put it behind other shorter plants that will hide the empty space once you have to cut it down after blooming. It’s rather ugly after blooming.
- Put it in a space where the underground roots can allow it to enlarge but won’t encroach on other plants. It’s not too invasive but can double/triple in size underground after blooming. Dividing is easy and can control the size as the roots aren’t deep.
You can have your neighbors asking “what IS that bright red flower”!
I’ve fed the hummingbirds for years, and typically I watch for the male to arrive around Mother’s Day. Males arrive first, then the female comes a few days later.
The male lets me know he’s arrived by buzzing my front windows where the feeder is usually located if I haven’t yet put it out. He hovers within a foot of the window, looking toward the window as if to say, “HEY LADY!”. I find this nothing short of amazing considering that this tiny little bird just finished his trek from the Gulf. Nature can be so phenomenal.
A Twitter friend just tweeted a tracking map that the hummers have already been sited in the area as well as north of here. I guess the warm weather has encouraged them to fly north much earlier than usual. I’ll have to watch for my little guy to return.
I lived in Tucson for a period of time and thoroughly enjoyed the various hummers that live there year-round. Here in central Ohio, we only see the Ruby-throated hummingbird. In Tucson, there were more varieties. I especially enjoyed the tiny Anna’s and Costa’s hummingbirds. The photos in these links don’t do justice to the awesome brilliance of the feathers in the sun.
If you normally feed hummers, you may want to start watching for them to appear. If you haven’t fed hummers in the past and want to start attracting them, I’ve been told that you must put feeders out before they arrive so you can capture them early. They’re very territorial and “protect” their feeder, so you might be able to attract the younger ones who are looking for their own territorial feeder.
- For food, I use ¼ cup of sugar to 1 cup of hot water. No food color is necessary.
- Ants and hornets are likely to become a problem. Check out Wild Birds Unlimited for a plastic ‘gizmo’ that hangs above the feeder with a sticky ant repellent in it. It worked very well. For the hornets, there are bee guards, but I’ve found the hornets still buzz around trying to capture the sugar water.
- There are several plants that hummingbirds really like. They like the red tube flowers, especially fuchsias, if you have a place to hang them. Wild Birds can help you select flowers.
- There are two Wild Birds Unlimited stores that I visit. One is in Dublin on Riverside Dr and the other is in Westerville on State Street.