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Aug 12, 2007

Just when I thought I'd seen it all...

Daughter No.2, Auralee, told me earlier this week that she had seen a baby Ruby-throated Hummingbird sipping nectar from phlox flowers in her garden. She said it was twice the size of a bumblebee and she could almost reach out and touch it. It sounded odd because a young hummingbird, if it's out flying around and gathering nectar, is almost the same size as an adult 'hummer'. I took her word for it, however, and didn't think much more about it.
Today, I was out in my garden, standing near some tall Obedient Plants, when I suddenly saw, on the flowers, something I'd never seen before. It was a large, green-backed flying insect, with rapidly beating wings, which was flitting from flower to flower, just like a humming bird, gathering nectar. I called Linda to come and see my discovery. We stood bewildered. We able to get to very close to it even though it was constantly on the move. It was smaller than a hummingbird - but not by much.
I had told Linda about Auralee's sighting earlier in the week and now concluded that we were seeing the same amazing creature. After a minute or so, it flew off leaving us very puzzled. I told Linda I would try to find something about it on the Internet. I typed in "Hummingbird Insect". Shazam!!! There it was: Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. Who knew? Well, lots of people, it seems. The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hermaris thysbe) is fairly common in eastern Canada and the U.S.A., during the summer months. It is a day-flying, nectar-sipping moth with a 2" wingspan, a green furry back, and burgundy wing scales, suggesting a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. It has two antennae plus a long curling probocis to suck nectar. This moth is frequently mistaken for 'baby' or 'little' hummingbirds. If you see one, and if you're like me, for a moment you'll hardly believe your eyes. I just love moments like this, when my aged, tired, skeptical self is treated to a hitherto undiscovered wonder of nature.
Back at the start of May, I wrote a blog about the first hummingbird of the year and included a picture, which my sister-in-law, Nancy, had sent me of five hummingbirds feeding at a small red dish resting in the palm of a hand. Just last week I ran across the larger version of the same shot (with the whole person) and have included it below. Lucky lady!
Please comment if you wish.
(Photo of Hummingbird Clearwing Moth by Don Marlin)


Bigwom said...

That's it! You can see why I was confused!

pebble said...

That is quite a shot of a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. Did you take it? Until you mentioned, I didn't know the existence of such a hummingbird lookalike moth :)
Now, isn't your sister-in-law a very blessed person .. 5 hummingbirds gravitated towards her presence! .. that'll be my objective one of these days ..:)