When I glanced up from the work I was doing in the garden, I spotted one of my favorite garden visitors at the nearby phlox.
Now, if you haven’t seen one of these before, you might well wonder what it is. A tiny hummingbird? It is hovering in front of a flower and sipping nectar just like those tiny birds do. Or a giant bee? It is striped liked a big bumblebee. In fact, it is neither. It’s a moth!
Hummingbird Clearwing moths (Hemaris thysbe) are quite common and widespread. 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 some moths fly by day. 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.
You can watch a Hummingbird Clearwing visiting flowers at this Youtube site. Moths are definitely underrated. There are some amazing moths, and you can see a lot of them in your own backyard. For more about moths and how to view them, visit the North American Moths Backyard Inventory.