Home / Blogs / What’s Poppin’? Phenological Fun: Hummingbird Clearwing Moth
August 9, 2023
Photo credit: Jim Kauffman
It’s a bird! It’s a bee! It’s a… moth?! It is a moth! Yes! The hummingbird clearwing moth is a member of the Sphingidae family of moths which are more commonly known as sphinx moths, hawk moths, or the hornworms. (I think The Hornworms would be a great name for a ska band!) There are many types of Sphingid moths and many clearwing moths, but if you say Hemaris thysbe, everyone will know what you’re talking about. Thank goodness for binomial nomenclature!
This hummingbird clearwing moth is feeding on one of its favorite nectar sources that are blooming this time of year. The moth has a long proboscis that it sticks down the also long flower tubes to get the sweet, sweet nectar inside. In the process, it also helps to pollinate the flowers. You may recognize these flowers by the names beebalm, wild bergamot, horsemint, or, oswego tea. The two varieties here are Monarda didyma (the red one) and Monarda fistulosa (the lavender one). Binomial nomenclature to the rescue once again!
As caterpillars, their host plants are honeysuckle and dogbane so a diversity of plant hosts will lead to a diversity of insect visitors. These images were captured in the garden of ACB Forests Projects Coordinator Jim Kauffman. If you plant it, they will come!
If you see something blooming, leafing out, ripening, or otherwise changing in your woods, send us photos (firstname.lastname@example.org) to include in next month’s Forests for the Bay newsletter for more phenological fun!
Forests Projects Coordinator
Forests for the Bay