Thursday, July 28, 2011

Clearwing Hummingbird Moths

by Donna L. Watkins

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Clearwing Hummingbird Moth
This is the time of year that we love watching the hummingbirds in the garden. Flittering about in all their beauty ... and showing their greediness by battling other hummingbirds, convinced that being somewhere first gave them the right to not share.

Human nature is also seen in wild nature. I love walking about and learning from the wild things that reside or visit our wildlife habitat. Sometimes, it is quite refreshing to begin to think an accusation about a particular bird or animal, only to hear the Holy Spirit telling me that I have some of that same negative quality that I need to pay some attention to also.

Most people are familiar with hummingbirds. Here in Virginia, we only get the Ruby-throated Hummingbird on a regular basis. Rufous and Allen's have been spotted in places, especially during migration.

But rather than the hummingbirds we know and love, I wanted to let you know about Hummingbird Moths.  I recently took a video of a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth on the deck and after sharing it with a few friends, most of them said they'd never seen such a thing or even heard of it.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins
Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth
Yes, these are actual moths that feed during the day, and I've seen them feeding on the deck at night also. They really like garden phlox and petunias, but I've seen them on the butterfly bushes and, on an excursion to a plantation garden recently, they were enjoying zinnias along with a multitude of skipper butterflies.

The Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth is much smaller than a hummingbird and could be mistaken for a big bumblebee, especially with the coloring being the same in many ways.

These beautiful creatures come from the hornworm caterpillar. Yep, the same group of species the tomato hornworms are in. Adult stages of hornworms are known as sphinx, hawk, or “hummingbird” moths. So, if you see these big caterpillars with a "horn" at one end, leave them alone if you can.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Tobacco Hornworm Caterpillar
on Black Nightshade Plant on Deck
Last year we had a 'volunteer' plant come up in one of my deck pots.  A 'volunteer' is a term used for those plants that appear in your garden without being planted by you.

I love to wait and see what they are because I feel like they're a gift from God.  Either to teach me about another invasive plant that we never want to have in our garden ... or to give me the delights of another species and whatever that plant will attract to our habitat.

The plant that came up turned out to be a Black Nightshade.  The nightshade family includes vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, etc.  This family of foods has had some research in relation to inflammation in arthritis.

It produces small black berries for the birds so it was a blessing to get it and it has come back this year.  Although I have not seen a hornworm on the plant to date.  Sure have been hoping and looking.

View variety of hummingbird moth photos that I've taken.
View recent hummingbird moth video on deck.
More information on Clearwing Hummingbird Moths.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I first enjoyed Hummingbird Moths when a volunteer flower, "4 O'Clock", appeared in a nook on the west side of our home. For a few years, the moths and the flowers were a delight. The 4 O'Clocks are extremely invasive, so eventually we had to cull them out. It was all fun while it lasted!

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