Tuesday, April 15, 2014

white-lined sphinx ~ 04/15/14 ~ Pinnacles


Well, I won't win any photography awards for these photos, but it's good enough to show how impressively long its proboscis is and for an ID.  I've been casually calling these hummingbird moths.  Problem is no one knows what I'm talking about.  In my defense, I spotted what I believe was a Hyles lineata during a break in the rain at SFB Morse Botanical Reserve on February 28, which happened to be around the time when I also started seeing rufous hummingbirds on migration.  On an overcast day, the overall coloring for both the hefty moth and the tan bird are remarkably similar, and the name stuck in my head.  I have Paul to thank for correcting me when we saw another white-lined sphinx along the butterfly highway

Thanks to the blurring of memory through time, I had forgotten all about the clearwings (hey, if you don't use it, you lose it).  Back when I lived in OH, I was familiar with the hummingbird clearwing (Hemaris thysbe), which can have the more traditional green and red coloring of hummingbirds.  They were popular subjects of insect question calls to the museum and were frequently described as hovering like a hummingbird with a lobster tail.  Pinnacles has a different clearwing, the bumble bee moth (Hemaris thetis), formerly classified under the eastern snowberry clearwing sphinx (Hemaris diffinis).  I plan on keeping my eye out for them, because day-flying sphinx moths are fun to watch.


Imperfect and Tense said...

It's always a joy to see a day-flying moth that looks like a hummingbird.

In the UK, we have the Humming-bird Hawk-moth, Macroglossum stellatarum.

Though we do not have hummingbirds in the UK, when you encounter your first hawk-moth impersonating one, it really is difficult to convince yourself that it is an insect and not a bird!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Graeme. You don't have hummingbirds in the UK!?! I did not know that.

Jennifer said...

OMG I think this is exactly what was flying around in my bathroom a couple nights ago! I couldn't believe it. I was like, what is this gigantic thing? I had to turn on an outdoor light, open the bathroom door going outside, and shut out the bathroom lights to get it to go back outside. Crazy! It was really cool.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

J, good idea to let it out on its own. I had a white-lined sphinx in the stairwell at home this morning. It's a hefty moth.