Hummingbird Clearwing Moth – Hemaris thysbe
Family Sphingidae. Commonly called hummingbird clearwing, hummingbird moth, sphinx colibri.
Live adult moths photographed in the wild at Winfield, Illinois, USA.
The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (wingspan 38-50 mm) inhabits the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada, where it ranges far to the north, even into the Yukon.
I can tell you from experience, if you want to attract these moths to your flower garden, plant bee balm (Monarda) – especially the wild variety.
These are some of the very first insects I photographed with a digital camera using a hand-held flash. One upon a time, I insisted all my shots be taken in natural light – but oh boy, a fill flash really freezes the action and helps shooting with a very small aperture for better depth of field.
Sphinx moths pollinate many species of plants. Moth-pollinated flowers tend to have a strong, sweet scent and are white or pale in color. Gardens planted with these flowers may attract several kinds of sphinx moths, including the hummingbird and bumblebee mimics.
Adult sphinx moths are medium to large moths with wingspans ranging from about 1.25 inches to 4.75 inches.
Some sphinx moths have been clocked at speeds as high as 30 mph.
The snowberry clearwing (above), a close relative, is nearly as rare. This bumblebee mimic is yellow with black wings and abdomen.