Posts Tagged ‘Hemaris thysbe’

In the insect world, Red-footed Cannibalflies (Promachus rufipes) are fearsome predators. Yesterday I spotted one at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia that appeared to be subduing a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) that it had just captured.

What happens next? Wikipedia describes the tactics of a robber fly, the family to which the Red-footed Cannibalfly belongs, in these words:  “The fly attacks its prey by stabbing it with its short, strong proboscis  injecting the victim with saliva containing neurotoxic and proteolytic enzymes which very rapidly paralyze the victim and soon digest the insides; the fly then sucks the liquefied material through the proboscis.”


red-footed cannibalfly subdues hummingbird moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Yesterday as I was exploring at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge I came across one of my favorite insects, a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe). These spectacular insects act like a cross between a bee and a hummingbird, although they look more like a flying crayfish. They move really quickly, so I was thrilled to capture this image that gives a clear view of the moth’s transparent wings.

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved






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Earlier this week I caught a glimpse of my favorite moth, the spectacular Hummingbird Clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe). Normally these little beauties hover at high speeds as they collect nectar, but this one kept perching on leafy plants, permitting me to capture its wings at rest. I wonder if the moth was laying eggs.

I am always fascinated by the names of species and found this interesting bit of information about this moth’s Latin name on the bugguide.net website. “Pyramus and Thisbe were lovers who died tragically. Pyramus found Thisbe’s blood-stained scarf, assumed she had been killed, and committed suicide with his sword. It seems likely the reference to the story of Thisbe is a reference to the rusty, somewhat blood-like coloration of this moth.”

Hummingbird Clearwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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Is photography an art or a science? One of the reasons why I enjoy photography so much is that it engages me on both levels—it speaks to my inner artist and to my inner geek.

Growing up, I remember watching Olympic figure skating and I was struck by the fact that the skaters received two sets of scores, one for “artistic impression” and one for “technical merit.” In many ways, I use a similar internal scoring system for my photographs.

Some of my photographs rate high on one scale, but fall short on the other. Every now and then, though, one of my images stands out, with high marks all around, like this shot of a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe).

I posted an earlier photo of this remarkable insect and I thought it was really cool that I was able to get a close-up with the wings open and frozen in action, a somewhat impressive technical feat. This image, shot from a bit farther away, gives a better view of the moth in action and is a more interesting pose. The background, which I recall was evergreen bushes, is uncluttered. Even the flower cooperated by following the “odd rule” of composition, with three clusters of tiny flowers.

It’s hard to be objective when analyzing my own work, but I know that I like this image a lot.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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