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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Clearly a Moth That Hums

0827 clear wing moth (8)
Maybe you’ve seen these sphinx-shaped winged moths in your flower beds. Despite mimicking a hummingbird in their actions,  they are moths and belong to the insect family of Lepidoptera, which includes both butterflies and moths. Scientifically known as Hemaris thysbe, hummingbird moths have a wingspan of 1-1/2 to 2 inches. 0823 clearwing moth (3)These moths have antennae, spindle-shaped bodies, and the tip of their tail opens like a fan. They are usually a reddish brown color. Like all Lepidoptera their wings are covered by scales; some species lose many of the scales from patches on their wings. These are called clearwing hummingbird moths. 0827 clear wing moth (26)

Like hummingbirds, they hover over flowers unfurling a long, butterfly-like proboscis (think drinking straw) that extends out to feed, then rolls back up and out of the way. Their wings beat quickly and they often emit an audible buzzing sound like a hummingbird.clear wing moth collage10827 clear wing moth (32)
These moths don’t act like “typical” moths; instead of flying towards a porch light at night, they fly around in mid-day in meadows, forest edges and our front flower garden. Also, like hummingbirds, they hover a very really short time over flowers and unfurl a long, butterfly-like proboscis (think drinking straw) to extract nectar. While doing this, their wings beat so quickly that they emit an audible buzzing sound like a hummingbird.clear wing moth collage2
There are four species of hummingbird moths in North America. The most familiar ones are the Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe) and the Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis).

Fascinating to watch, they are challenge to photograph clearly. Like hummingbirds, they are never still for long. These photos were the result of several afternoon photo sessions from the F&P front porch.

16 comments:

Sandra said...

not only have I not seen one, i have never heard of them either. these are great shots. i love the one in flight in the last collage, the big part of it

The Odd Essay said...

The first time I saw one I thought it was a hummingbird. You sure got some great shots of this one!

Montanagirl said...

When I saw my first one of these beauties, I too, thought I was seeing a Hummingbird. Great shots you guys! You did good.

Blackberry Lane said...

I have seen them. Looks like they are enjoying your Autumn Joy Sedum!

Debbie said...

awesome captures!! gorgeous light in the second image!!

Tammy@Simple Southern Happiness said...

Great info and pictures too, is this with the new camera? Looking forward to more.

DeniseinVA said...

Beautiful photos! I haven't seen any of these moths around our way for quite a while. They are fascinating.

I'm glad you are finding our south western road trip enjoyable. I can highly recommend the Buffalo Bill Center in Cody. We truly would have stayed a couple of days just looking around it as there is such a lot to see. Tomorrow we head up to the Grand Teton.

We are still using the tripod Debbie recommended and like it very much. It is so light-weight and very easily to open.

Enjoy your day, we are off to try and spot some bears :)

grammie g said...

HI B... Aren't they wonderful, and quick!
I have not seen half as many as last year, which was a bumper crop I
think lol !!
Love your photos of the little guy's !!

Grace

L. D. said...

Your shots of that humming insect are great. I really enjoyed seeing all the blooms that the moth is enjoy. I am trying save my sedum from our very dry weather.

thecottagebythecranelaketwo said...

We have relatives to them over here and people always believe they have seen hummingbirds even if they don't exist outside the American continents :-) Most of them fly at dawn here and we ususllay call them night butterflies.

Beautiful birds in previous posts! It's amazing how colorful they are!

Nice cameras too! I guess most cameras today are more or less just as good but I like how it feels to hold my Nikon, very different from other brands. Good choice of camera :-)

Have a great day!
Christer.

Rebecca said...

I'm trusting you that they are moths, but they look like bees and I will try to avoid any I run across!

NCmountainwoman said...

Beautiful photographs! I've always wanted to see one but no luck so far.

Mom A said...

Thanks for identifying these little visitors. I have lots!

Out on the prairie said...

I love to have them in my garden, they visit often

Cicero Sings said...

I saw one once, in my garden up here ... but didn't manage to get a photo of it !

Anvilcloud said...

I've recently seen these elsewhere too -- probably on Flickr.

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