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Posts Tagged ‘Hermaris thysbe’

Hummingbird Clearwing Moths (Hemaris thysbe) act a lot like hummingbirds. With rapidly beating wings, they both hover and fly from flower to flower seeking nectar. Instead of a beak like a hummingbird, however, a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth has a long proboscis that rolls out of its coiled tube to reach the nectar deep inside flowers.

Normally when I get shots of a hummingbird moth, its proboscis is fully extended and the moth is sucking up nectar through this flexible hollow tube. On Monday, I was delighted to capture this first image in which the moth’s proboscis was still curled up as it approached a thistle in bloom. The second image shows the Hummingbird Moth actively feeding through the proboscis.

From the first moment when I encountered one, I have been fascinated by these curious creatures. They seem almost magical, combining characteristics of different species, or perhaps mythical, like a centaur or a sphinx. It is always fun to observes a Hummingbird Moth in action, but you have to react quickly to get shots when you see them, because they are really fast and in constant motion.

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I haven’t seen many hummingbirds this year, so I am always excited to spot one of their insect counterparts in action. Hummingbird Clearwing Moths (Hemaris thysbe) act a lot like hummingbirds, with the notable difference of gathering nectar with their long proboscises rather than with needle-like bills.

I photographed this moth yesterday  at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. As you can probably imagine, I had to take a lot of shots to get one in which the moth was in focus and had its wings in a relatively good position. These moths are really fast, keep moving in and out of the flowers, and are pretty small—about a wingspan of about an inch and a half  (4 cm).

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Yesterday was my first chance to try out my new lens, a Tamron 180mm macro, and I managed to get some shots of a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland.

Clearwing1_blog

This was my first encounter with this moth, which I have admired in the photos of others, and I took a lot of photos of it, using a variety of settings. I think that I got my best shots when I set the ISO to 800 and underexposed a bit, which kept the shutter speed up pretty high, although the images are a little grainy. I still have a lot of photos to go through, so don’t be surprised if I come up with an even better image to post. However, I am so happy with this image that I want to share my excitement.

I had previously used the Nikon version of this lens with a friend’s camera and was impressed enough that I eventually decided to get one for my Canon. The lens does not have any built-in image stabilization, so it probably gives optimal results when used on a tripod or when there is a lot of light. However, I was impatient to use it, so I shot handheld when shooting this moth and probably need to work a bit more on my technique for steadier shooting.

I am pretty sure that I’ll be posting many more macro shots from this lens in the future—I plan on having a lot of fun with it.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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