Sunday, March 17, 2013

Clearwing Moth

Last year, we had Hemaris caterpillars on the coral honeysuckle. And, like Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar, they proceeded to devour the plants. In fact, we had to re-locate several of them from a spindly little vine to a set of more robust plants in the backyard. That was a win-win: the pitiful honeysuckle survived the onslaught, the caterpillars got more food, and the new honeysuckle was right on the back porch, so it was much easier to watch the feast.

Nom nom nom. poop. Nom nom nom. poop (Lifestyle of the average caterpillar)

They're grew to be big caterpillars: I could feel their weight when they crawled on my hand. Beautifully colored as larvae, they metamorphose into a pretty interesting critter, too.

Hemaris caterpillars become Hemaris moths, a.k.a. Clearwing moths, a.a.k.a. Bumblebee moths. They buzz around plants with their transparent wings, sipping nectar while pretending mightily that they are Dangerous Bees with Very Large Sharp Stingers, so you should Certainly Leave Them Alone.

I was reminded of my caterpillar friends and their honeysuckle buffet when I spotted an adult this afternoon, drinking from a patch of henbit.

I hope this means that there will be more Hemaris caterpillars this year. I'll keep an eye out.


  1. That's really interesting. I think the nearest I've come to an insect like this is a bee-fly - which is exactly what its name suggests; a large fly disguised as a bee with a long pretend-sting at the front.

    Tree-following. I started to re-do the page on my blog and unintentionally deleted the list of Tree Followers. Although this was annoying at the time, I decided it might be no bad thing because sometimes people start then stop. So - I'm creating a new list of tree followers. Are you still keeping an eye on your young cedar elm? If so, it would be great if you lwould let me know when you next post about it. Then I'll add your name back on the list and mention it on Loose and Leafy Best wishes. Lucy

  2. A hasty note to remind you there will be a link box for Tree Following posts on Loose and Leafy tomorrow (March 7th). It'll stay open for seven days.

  3. Wow! Not something we have in northern Europe - Clearwing / bumblebee moths. I must investigate whether they're related to Hummingbird Hawkmoths - in northern France, we get a lot of those. The hummingbird hawk-moth - Macroglossum stellatarum, is also a species of Sphingidae but according to good old Wiki, they are an example of convergent evolution rather than related species. Rather cool. .

    I found you via a link on Lucy's Loose and Leafy blog relating to Tree Following - I'm finding some gems of blogs via her links. Best wishes for 2014.

  4. Hello Joy. Wondering how you are getting on with your Cedar Elm. If you would like to take part in the April Tree Following - the box for links is open till 7pm (UK time) tomorrow (14th) - Even if you are only able to post a picture of what it is looking like now - that would be great and keep us up to date. (But only if you have the time, and are well, and feel like it. Really.)