When I was strolling around the garden with my morning coffee a few days ago, this busy garden visitor caught my eye. It’s a Hummingbird Clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe). It was concentrating mostly on the monarda, or bee balm flowers, moving from one to the next down the row of plants. I had been thinking they were past their best and needed deadheading, but the moth clearly felt otherwise.
When you think of moths, the creatures that first come to mind might be the drab little characters that flutter around your porch light at night, but moths are a diverse and interesting lot. The Hummingbird Clearwing is also sometimes called a Hawkmoth, and is a member of the Sphinx moth family.
Sphinx moths are fast, powerful fliers. The Hummingbird Clearwing has narrow wings with a dark band surrounding the translucent centre that gives this moth its name. Sphinx caterpillars are called hornworms because they typically have a short “horn” on their posterior end. Most hornworms don’t spin a cocoon but pupate in an earthen cell, built from leaf litter, just below the soil surface.
For more on diurnal sphinx moths, visit Seabrooke’s account at The Marvelous in Nature, linked here.