hawk moth

noun
\ ˈhȯk-ˌmȯth How to pronounce hawk moth (audio) \
variants: or hawkmoth

Definition of hawk moth

: any of a family (Sphingidae) of large, stout-bodied, swift-flying moths that are sometimes active during the day and have long, narrow, more or less pointed forewings, small hind wings, and a very long proboscis which at rest is kept coiled and are typically capable of hovering while feeding on the nectar of flowers

Note: Many hawk moths lack scales on their wings and are usually called clearwings. Because of a hornlike extension on their hind end, larvae of the hawk moth are often referred to as hornworms and include pests destructive to crops and ornamental plants.

called also sphinx moth

Examples of hawk moth in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Snake-mimic caterpillar The larvae of hawk moths ward off predators by impersonating deadly pit vipers. Liz Langley, National Geographic, "Imitation crab? Meet 6 creatures that steal others’ looks," 7 Aug. 2019 The mimicry technique the hawk moth caterpillar uses can fool birds or other hungry caterpillars that might otherwise eat it. National Geographic, "Why This Harmless Caterpillar Disguises Itself as a Venomous Snake," 3 Apr. 2018 The hawk moth’s disguise capitalizes on most predators’ natural proclivity to avoid anything snake-like. National Geographic, "‘Two-Headed Snake’ Shocks Homeowner," 26 Mar. 2017 So how does the hawk moth master the convincing blinking eye? National Geographic, "‘Two-Headed Snake’ Shocks Homeowner," 26 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hawk moth.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hawk moth

1785, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of hawk moth was in 1785

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Cite this Entry

“Hawk moth.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hawk%20moth. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on hawk moth

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hawk moth

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hawk moth

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