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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Imagine my delight when I was wandering around my brother-in-law's amazing flower garden while visitiing in Maine, and not one, but four, Hummingbird Clearwing Moths, of the Sphynx (or Hawk) Moth family, were enjoying lunchtime around his phlox! 



I was transfixed, spending at least an hour trying to capture at least one good photograph for my picture files!  I stepped right up to the phlox and they continued to methodically feed around the blossoms, totally undaunted by my presence.



Common in North America, the Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe), hovers to feed on nectar at many different flowers, including honeysuckle, beebalm, phlox, lilac and bergamot.  Its larvae feed on honeysuckle, buckbrush, wild cherry and plum.



One even came to rest on a Black-eyed Susan,
 presenting an opportunity to snap a shot of it's wings.

Have you ever come across a hornworm amongst your tomato plants?  Well, guess what!? 
When it matures, it becomes a Sphynx Moth - maybe not a Hummingbird Clearwing, but similar, and in my opinion, they are all just as beautiful and engaging to observe. Most species in the group are active at dusk, and feed much like hummingbirds, hovering in front of a flower and sipping nectar through the extended proboscis.  Most species pupate in the soil, though some form loose cocoons in the leaf layer.



Here is a quick video!  I attempted to capture my own, but to be frank with you, it was easier to find one on YouTube to share!  They are busy little fellows and difficult to follow with the camera!  I am not well practiced in the art of videoing!

24 comments:

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Nice photos of the clearwing--it's a tough one to capture!

walk2write said...

I would gladly sacrifice some of my plum leaves if I could play a part in raising some of those little beauties! You did a wonderful job capturing them and sharing what you've learned.

Barb said...

The first time I observed this moth here in CO, I thought it was a hummingbird. They are fascinating to watch! I think they're not as territorial as the hummers - they don't seem to mind a human (with a camera) hovering close to them!

Stephanie said...

Nasty hornworms! Very unique leaf looking wings...perhaps it's from all the green tomato leaves they devour. Great photos.

KimQuiltz said...

Wow, stunning! I love a good moth, for me it beats the flashy butterfly any day of the week.

Carrie P. said...

Glad you are having a great visit. We have those moths around here on the bee balm and butterfly bushes. My daughter just found some of those green worms on my tomatoes but they are full of white wasp eggs so I don't need to worry about them anymore.

martha miller (it's all art) said...

Fantastic shots!! We have a bunch of these moths in our pink phlox, and I haven't gotten a real good picture of one yet! Karen, check out Lisbeth's blog! xo

http://wwwnotbadthing.blogspot.com/2010/08/lisbeths-got-brand-new-bag.html

Steve Willson said...

This is one of my favorites. I've never seen one sit still before.

Linda Reeder said...

Wow. I have never seen one of these. I don't think we have them around here.

Mark Kreider said...

Excellent photos, I have no idea how you accomplished the captures. Must be a lot of talent and good equipment.

Natural Moments said...

Wow, who copied who....is the hummingbird acting like an insect or the moth acting like a hummingbird. fantastic!

Stephanie said...

Karen, I just love the hummingbirds! These pics are gorgeous. I love them. We love the birds. In fact, this winter we had 6 feeders and in the spring we put out all of our dog's hair in a suette cage and they used it to nest with! Loved watching the little birds taking the hair in the beak a little at a time. Steph

Heather said...

Nice work, Karen. These little creatures are so captivating. Glad you were able to get such nice images!

julieQ said...

What gorgeous pictures! You must have the patience of Job...a whole hour!~! wow!

Pat said...

Just love your photos and video. Thank you for sharing, my dear .
Happy Quilting!

Robin Robinson said...

Veeeeelllllly inta'westing, Glasshoppa! I'm on the look out now for the White Lined Sphinx moth. Has pink on its wings........always the quest for another great photo to research and write about, eh? Thanks for visiting me.

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

Amazing photos! You find so much beauty in nature.

Lily Hydrangea said...

their wings are the neatest thing! You really captured some nice photos.
thanks for the spectacular video too.

EG Wow said...

Your photos are wonderful. I haven't seen a hummingbird moth in years!

Rambling Woods said...

I just love them and you did it justice....

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Karen: Wonder captures of the moth, I hope I see one again this year.

John said...

Hi Karen,

Sorry I am so late to this. Amazing footage and wonderful shots. We have one similar species in the Hummingbird Hawk Moth. Your passion for wildlife is an inspiration.

Thank you Karen. Please keep this going.

John

Marvin said...

Nice shots of the clearwing! I've wasted millions of pixel trying to get a few halfway decent shots of clearwing moths. It's a good thing pixels are cheap.

Linda said...

Beautiful bug photos and video!