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A Hummingbird Clearwing Moth Freaked Me Out in My Own Yard, Other Sightings in the Northland

California Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thetis aka H. diffinis, Sphingidae) on Coyote Mint (Monardella hypoleuca, Lamiaceae)

With the excessive heat we’ve had in the Northland the flowers in my yard have started to get crispy.  I was out Sunday evening picking off the ones that I knew couldn’t be revived.  This critter flew up next to me and started drinking nectar from the flowers and it was NOT afraid of me.  Ken tells me his dad just saw one of these for the first time in his yard last week.  Are we being infested?  So, I continued picking flowers while my husband and I tried to identify the species of something that didn’t really look like a bird, but flew like a hummingbird.  We finally took this picture and sent it to our friend who is a biology teacher.  Mr. Anderson said it was a Humming Bird Clearwing Moth, and THEY BITE.  Geez, I was hanging out with the thing!

hummingbird clearwing moth
Homie Kates

The technical name for them is Hemaris thysbe.  As I was looking for pictures to show you, I found that the color on these little guys can vary.  Mine was more zebra-like and void of color.  Typically  the moth is olive green and burgundy on its back and white or yellow and burgundy on the underside. Its wings are transparent with a reddish brown border. Just like a hummingbird, it beats it’s wing rapidly while collecting nectar from a variety of different flowers. Thus, our confusion.

Ken’s dad took a picture of one last week in Superior and none of us have seen them in the area until now.  Makes one wonder…..have you seen them in your yard?



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