Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Giant Pollinating Moth

It's a bird, it's a plane, no...it's a giant pollinating moth that's hovering near the currant bush near our front door. I went out one evening and was surprised by the numerous moths zipping from one flower to the next.

A little research on the internet showed me that this huge moth that is almost the size of a hummingbird is called, get this, a hummingbird moth! The family, sphinx or hawk moths, are nicknamed hummingbird moths because of their resemblance.

This particular species is a white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata). The species name lineata refers to the the white lines that stripe them. They also have a tan line down each wing.

The moths were constantly moving, and their long proboscis (that's a fun word to use), was obviously well-adapted for the deep tubes of the flowers.

Several white-lined sphinx moths darted around the bush, moving from flower to flower. They didn't seem particularly disturbed by me or Henry. Apparently they often prefer white or light-colored flowers because they are easier to see during dusk and night, their most active period.

Being moths, they have to go to a caterpillar stage, and they like to burrow into the ground. Wow! Caver caterpillars that morph into hummingbird-like moths. These are rad! Not only that, but they are found all over the U.S.

To learn more about white-lined sphinx moths, check out the great Butterflies and Moths website or see some awesome photos at this blog.

5 comments:

The Incredible Woody said...

Those things are HUGE!

Dessert Survivor said...

When I see moths like this around the garden, I start searching for tomato hornworms.s

Sarah said...

Folks may be more familiar with the five-spotted hawkmoth, and their caterpillar stage here in the Midwest. Tomato hornworms are impressive looking.

Leslie said...

These moths are wonderful! We went out into our yard one evening last spring to find a whole bunch of them feeding on our salvia flowers. An amazing thing to witness. We saw them only on that one evening.

Watcher said...

I absolutely love Hummingbird Moths. Great post and excellent job catching those pics!

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