Photos by Rebecca Oliver (Snowberry Clearwing)
"Oh my gosh! I've discovered a new species of bumblebee! It must be an escapee from the science lab. A real Texas size beauty. Gotta get my camera!" These were my first thoughts upon seeing what turned out to be a Snowberry Clearwing Moth. As it was gathering nectar I was able to walk up very close to snap pictures. Yep, it had a furry yellow and black body and see- through wings outlined in dark black.
Then I got a good look at it's cute face! It reminded me of the "smiley face", yellow with two tiny black eyes and a round black circle where it's very long proboscis came from. I began to notice other differences between it and the bumblebee. No hairy legs, such a long body with no black hard shiny parts, long feathery antenna and a fanned out hummingbird style tail.
I carried the photos with me everywhere, asking friends, family, store clerks, shoppers in the plant section of stores, "have you ever seen one of these?" No one had, everyone agreed with my first thoughts, it must be a scientific lab produced Texas Bumblebee. Then I went to our local Texas Forest Service agency thinking they would want to rush out to my garden and capture the exotic new find.
Instead the young lady there took me into her office where she sat down at her computer and typed in a Google Search for "hummingbird moth", because it did look like a hummingbird but was definitely a moth [as any good entomologist would know]. And up popped your site! Full of these wondrous creatures. The Snowberry Clearwing Moth.
Here are my photos of the moth and bumblebee to show differences and similarities:
This July day the Lantanas were vibrant in the early afternoon sun, their fragrance drawing an abundant crowd of butterflies, bumblebees and a few snowberry clearwing moths. The activity is spellbinding. The butterflies land to sup, walking from flower to flower, their wings gently waving open, close, open, close. The bumblebees wallow in the flower as though wrestling, they stay put for a lengthy time. But the moths are never still, they hover while circling the flower. A moment here, moment there, round and round they go then off to the next. They use their tails for balance, much as a hummingbird does, and their wings seem to move in multiple directions, again much as a hummingbird's do. I was excited with the play of color brought out by the sun, on the antenna, legs and especially the incredible beauty of the wings. And where there are sun shots, there are shadows thrown on the green leaves. Their beauty and grace are a wonder to behold.
See more of Rebecca's hummingbirdmoth photos here !: