You have probably seen one before and just didn’t know.
If you’ve ever been in your flower garden or near a buzzing field of wildflowers on a sunny, summer day and said to yourself, “well, that’s a funky lookin’ bee”.
Congratulations! You’ve just spotted a humingbird moth!
Or, more accurately, a Hummingbird Clearwing, a moth in the genus Hemaris.
There are 3 Hemaris species that occur in this region, those being the hemaris thysbe (Hummingbird Clearwing, shown here), Hemaris diffinis (Snowberry Clearwing) and Hemaris gracilis (Slender Clearwing). The differences between each are very subtle amounting to a mere patch or band of color on the underside.
The olive-green into burgundy coloring on the thorax and abdomen would make a pretty decent color combination for any football team and the hues of red and brown on the edges of the wings are pretty snazzy as well but arguably the most interesting feature of this moth are the clear patches.
As you can see the clearwings are diurnal (daytime) moths and using their proboscis to feed on nectar from trees and flowers such as honeysuckle, hawthorne and snowberry. This one in particular was loving his bee balm.
Clearwings are normally found in any of the usual places you would expect bugs; second-growth forests, meadows and, occasionally, your very own garden.
Though it is commonly mistaken for a bumblebee one of the easiest ways to spot the difference is that while bees will land on the flower to collect pollen the clearwing will not. It will remain in flight for the duration of it’s feeding in the same manner of a hummingbird. Thus leaving little wonder how it got it’s name.
They are migratory which means that they are only here during the warmer months (April-August), so what are you waiting for? Go out and find one while they’re still here!
-Noah Klenovich is an amateur photographer and nature enthusiast. You can view his work at nklen.smugmug.com
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.