Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

The first Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) I ever saw was hovering at the garden phlox in a bed close to our garage door. I thought it was a hummingbird but it seemed a bit on the small side. As I continued to look I saw that I was looking at a moth of some kind. It had the typical thick body and feathery antennae of a moth.

I took these photos in the Octagon Prairie at Charleston Falls August 23. The moth is nectaring on a thistle. One article I read reported that they were difficult to photograph because they are always in motion and so require a high-shutter speed camera and bright sunshine. August 23 was sunny and my handy dandy Fujifilm JZ300 must be fast enough. (I also took a lot of photos that were bleared.)

Clearwing moths belong to the Sphinx Moth (Sphingidae) family. Their caterpillars feed on honeysuckle and virburnium. Adults feed only on nectar. Clearwings get their name because they have no scales on much of their wings.

Hummingbird Moths are found from Alaska and Northern Canada to the Gulf Coast and Florida. They are also found in Texas and California.

There is at least one other clearwing moth species in Ohio. One source reports three species.

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