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Posts Tagged ‘hummingbird moth’

I love to photograph birds and I love to photograph insects, so what could possibly be better than photographing an insect that looks and acts like a bird? Last week I was observing a patch of flowers at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge when I spotted what looked like a large bee. As I got closer, I realized that it was a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe).

Like a hummingbird, this insect hovers as it gathers nectar from flowers. Instead of a long skinny beak, though, the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth uses its long proboscis to get to the nectar. As the second photo shows, the moth curls up its proboscis when it is not in use—in this case, the moth was preparing to fly off to another flower.

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Many of my photographer friends have been posting photos of hummingbirds and I felt a little left out. I didn’t see any yesterday, but did spot several Snowberry Clearwing moths (Hemaris diffinis) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This species, along with other clearwing moths, is sometimes called a “hummingbird moth” because of its appearance and behavior, which reminds some folks of a hummingbird.

Most of the times in the past that I have seen a hummingbird clearwing moth, it has been a “cousin” of this species, the very similar Hemaris thysbe. That species, however, has more red on its body and has lighter colored legs, according to the butterfliesandmoths.org website.

As you might suspect, these moths are in almost constant motion.  Its is quite a challenge, therefore, to track them and keep them in focus as they dart among the flowering plants.

As I was tracking one, a second one flew in and seemed intent on dislodging the first one. I reflexively I pressed the shutter button and was a little shocked to see that I managed to capture them both in a single frame. It’s cool that they both had their long proboscises curled up at the moment I took the shot.

Snowberry Clearwing Moth

Snowberry Clearwing moth

Snowberry Clearwing moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Whenever I see bees buzzing around flowers, I keep an eye out for hummingbird moths. For some unknown reason, I have seen more of these colorful moths this summer than in past years.

Although you could argue about whether or not thistles are flowers, my vigilance was rewarded when I spotted this beautiful Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) feeding on this thistle bloom on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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