Friday, July 11, 2014

ITS A BIRD - ITS A PLANE - ITS A CLEAR WING MOTH

I first saw one of these critters last year here in my yard on these same butterfly bushes and mistook it for a hummingbird.   I just assumed a hummingbird was gathering nectar from all the flowering plants.  Then I got a good look at it and saw that it was no hummingbird and as a matter of fact it didn't appear to be a bird because I noticed the very obvious antennae.  What was this strange bird bug.  It was a hummingbird moth clear-wing moth to be exact.


Unlike other conventional moths, this moth appears to have a tail.  Actually the tail is made of fine fluffy hairs and I've no idea how this critter maneuver.  It flies at high speed, hovers, flies sideways, up and down on a thought and changes directions faster than the human eye can see.  In short it can do everything a hummingbird can do.
 The antennae are very apparent in the shots above and below.




 Those wings are dead ringers for hummingbird wings.

You can see his proboscis protruding into a flower above.




These beautiful moths get to be about 2.5 inches in length and come in a few different colors which are prevalent on moths from other regions of the United States.  Other varieties of this bug do not have transparent wings and this particular species is the only one with the clear wings.



The clear wings can be found from Main to Florida and are more prominent in the southern states.  They are nectar collectors and are also a migrating species that has two broods per year in the south east.  It overwinters in soil as a pupae and emerges in late spring as a moth.  They then lay eggs on the undersides of plant leaves that will hatch in a week to a week and a half when a moth emerges 4 weeks later.  Butterfly bushes are a favorite of this bug and the pupae will bury down at the roots of the bush to await spring.



If you have butterfly bushes in your yard you should keep an eye open for this fellow.  You may be seeing them and think you are watching a hummingbird at work.  They fooled me last year when I discovered them.   Ain't nature great?!