Aug 25 2013

A Beautiful Name

Published by at 7:20 am under Insects, Fish, Frogs

Snowberry clearwing (photo by Steve Gosser)

While looking for hummingbirds you might find a moth that resembles them.

The hummingbird moth and the hummingbird are examples of convergent evolution.  Both sip nectar from tubular flowers using similar feeding techniques. Their bodies have independently evolved to support their lifestyles and this makes them look alike.  Both have body and wing ratios that allow them to hover, and both have long feeding tubes — the bird’s beak, the moth’s proboscis.

Though we call this a hummingbird moth its real name is beautifully descriptive: Snowberry clearwing (Hemaris diffinis).  As caterpillars they feed on snowberries (among other things).  As adults they have clear wings.

Steve Gosser found this snowberry clearwing at Marcy Cunkelman’s last weekend.

(photo by Steve Gosser)

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “A Beautiful Name”

  1. Frank Izaguirreon 25 Aug 2013 at 10:19 am

    What a great shot. I’ve heard these guys referred to as sphinx moths before, though I’m not sure if that’s correct. They’re among the most beautiful insects I think.

  2. Kate St. Johnon 25 Aug 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Frank, the sphinx moths are large & don’t hover. Here’s a photo of a Pandora Sphinx moth http://www.wqed.org/birdblog/2013/08/11/extra-spectacular/

  3. Deniseon 26 Aug 2013 at 5:27 pm

    We saw one in Philadelphia on a butterfly bush this past w/e.

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