Monday, September 13, 2010

The Hummingbird Moth

Mom, Mom! Come quick! There is this insect, flying, fast, looks like a hummingbird with stripes! You gotta see it!

Peeling myself away from the current blog I was writing I go out to our flowers and lo and behold there it is!

There were two of them…flitting back and forth as fast as a hummingbird would from flower to flower.  We have a rock bed FULL of flowers and they were gathering nectar.

Hurry…get the camera….sun is setting quickly and it’s getting dark!

We snap as many pictures as we can but man, oh man, are they fast!

We watched with abandoned delight as they sucked up all that juicy nectar in our flower bed.

Well, everyday is a school day here. So, we looked up this amazing creature.

And viola!

The Hummingbird Moth, Hemaris thysbe, the Little Bug Who Looks Like A Bird

Look! It's a hummingbird! No, a bug! No, a hummingbird...


This pic is from the website. BUT!!

Hummingbird Moth 001

Here is ours.  Can you see the one? His/her wings are justa fluttering!

Wow! How cool!


It's probably Hemaris thysbe, the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth or Common Clearwing (wingspan 38-50 mm), who so closely resembles a hummingbird when feeding that many people never really notice that it's a moth hovering over the flowers.
The diurnal nature of many of these moths (most moths are nocturnal) and its similarities to the hummingbird in size, foraging behavior, and feeding structures often makes it one of the most common cases of mistaken identity in nature.
Flying in the day in meadows, forest edges and flower gardens, hummingbird moths typically visit one flower for a very short time, then dart away to find another. With its clear wings and body shape and size, the Hummingbird Moth bears an uncanny resemblance to its avian namesake.
The Hemaris thysbe moth feeds through a proboscis, a long, straw-like tube kept curled under the head when not in use. Its range includes Alaska and the Northwest Territories south through British Columbia to Oregon, east through the Great Plains and the Great Lakes area to Maine and Newfoundland, and south to Florida and Texas. Central Texas residents know that its range incorporates the Texas Hill Country, especially in the spring.

Hummingbird Moths lay small, green eggs on the undersides of leaves in early spring. The eggs hatch into larvae with a prominent horn on the rear. After feeding on fruit trees, honeysuckle, snowberry and hawthorn, the caterpillars form dark-brown cocoons in the leaf litter. There may be a second brood in southern areas like central Texas.
These interesting little moths are not considered a threat to Central Texas gardens. In fact, they can be quite beneficial through pollination of many species of plants. When brushing against plant anthers while dining, the moths are dusted by pollen and their fuzzy little bodies are excellent pollen carriers. Popping over to another flower of the same species, the Clearwing transfers pollen from the previous plant, an exercise in cross-pollination necessary for the production of seeds.
To attract them to your garden, provide flowers with a strong, sweet scent and are white or pale in color. These garden varieties may attract several kinds of sphinx moths, including the hummingbird and one that mimics the bumblebee.
Just like so many other fascinating creatures dwelling here on the Edwards Plateau, the Hummingbird Moth is well worth a second look.


Ellen said...

That is absolutely amazing! I have never heard of such a remarkable creature!! I'll have to pay closer attention the next time our little friends are around here.
Thanks for sharing! Look forward to hearing more from your side of the roost ;)


Sandy said...

Thanks Ellen! We are really enjoying God's amazing creatures...what a delight to be in the country!

Popping over your way today...I hope!

Feathery hugs,


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