Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It looks like a hummingbird, sounds like a hummingbird, and acts like a hummingbird. . .

. . . surely it must be a hummingbird?

I was new to gardening and was amazed by these hummingbirds as they danced from flower to flower.  They hover themselves in front of a flower while they unfurled their long tongues to sip nectar...just like a hummingbird.  Why they even make a "hum"...just  like a hummingbird.  But why do they have antennae?  Alas,  I was soon to find out it was not a hummingbird at all, but a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth, a gardener's pollinating friend. 

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth 
According to the US Forest Service, these day-flying moths are widespread in North America. In the Old World, there are several species of hummingbird moths. Some of these species are closely related and all belong to the same genus, Hemaris. The British prefer to call them Bee Hawk-Moths. There are four species of hummingbird moths in North America. The most familiar ones are the Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) and the Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe). They are both widespread throughout North America, with the former perhaps being more abundant in the west and the latter in the east. Like the majority of moths and butterflies, the adult hummingbird moths feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, but their larvae need more specific food plants, such as several species of honeysuckle, dogbane, or some members of the rose family such as hawthorn, cherries, and plums.

Clearwing attempting to get that last drop of nectar
The adults may start flying in early spring, when the bluebells (Mer- tensia) are still blooming; but you will have a better chance to see them when they are most active, in the summer when the bee balms are in bloom. If you have phlox (Phlox), beebalm (Monarda), honeysuckle (Lonicera) or verbena (Verbena) you are also likely to see these wonderful insects visiting these flowers.

No comments:

Post a Comment