Hemaris diffinis

| 12 Comments
clearwing_moth.jpg

Hemaris diffinis — Snowberry Clearwing moth feeding on milkweed flowers, Ohio

12 Comments

Is the the moth I heard about that shows mimicry of a bee?

Mikayla said:

Is the the moth I heard about that shows mimicry of a bee?

By coloration it appears to. Its behavior seems to me to be more akin to a hummingbird. It’s sometimes cited as an example of Batesian mimicry due to its resemblance to a bumblebee. There’s another species in the same genus, Hemaris thysbe, whose common name is “hummingbird clearwing.” Not being a twitcher, that’s all I can say. :)

Edited to add: Hemaris thysbe pic.

Mikayla said:

Is the the moth I heard about that shows mimicry of a bee?

Several species of moth, in several families, mimic bees and wasps.

That being said, I always think of the family Sesiidae when I think of “clearwings,” and I prefer “bee hawk moth” for Hemaris

Also, has anyone else heard of a hypothesis floating around about how Old World hummingbirds (e.g, Eurotrochilis sp) went extinct in Europe due to a combination of climatic change and competition with hawk/sphinx moths?

That’s a great picture. The plant looks like Asclepias incarnata, also called swamp milkweed. Where was the photo taken?

They Might Be Giants has a song – “Bee of the Bird of the Moth” (YouTube) – about hummingbird moths…

Pete Dunkelberg said:

That’s a great picture. The plant looks like Asclepias incarnata, also called swamp milkweed. Where was the photo taken?

Thanks! It was taken in central Ohio on a flat ridge that has a more or less permanently dampish (but not swampy) area of milkweeds that we preserve (i.e., don’t mow) on account of the Monarchs. I’ll poke around and see if I can identify the species in the spring. It’s a little hard now, what with the snow and all. :)

Pete Dunkelberg said:

That’s a great picture. The plant looks like Asclepias incarnata, also called swamp milkweed. Where was the photo taken?

Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata) has a narrower leaf, a pinker flower, and a flatter umbel. I suspect that the species shown in this wonderful photo is common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca.

Thanks Dan. I didn’t think of Asclepias syriaca since it doesn’t live where I do and I’ve never seen it.

Dan said:

Pete Dunkelberg said:

That’s a great picture. The plant looks like Asclepias incarnata, also called swamp milkweed. Where was the photo taken?

Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata) has a narrower leaf, a pinker flower, and a flatter umbel. I suspect that the species shown in this wonderful photo is common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca.

I’ll take Dan’s word for it. )

Dan said:

Pete Dunkelberg said:

That’s a great picture. The plant looks like Asclepias incarnata, also called swamp milkweed. Where was the photo taken?

Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata) has a narrower leaf, a pinker flower, and a flatter umbel. I suspect that the species shown in this wonderful photo is common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca.

It seems to be a common milkweed - see http://billvosslerbooks.com/images/[…]d_flower.jpg or http://www.ontariowildflower.com/wi[…]htm#milkweed

My favorite group of insects, these mimic moths.

“Is this the moth I heard about that shows mimicry of a bee?”

No. There’s a “bee moth” I’ve seen in native prairies (Wisconsin) that has “pollen sacks” on it’s hind legs. It looks and behaves just like a bee, but a bit slower. Amazing.

This creature looks like hummingbird moths I’ve seen, but the coloration does have the look of a bumblebee. What to make of that?

I just saw one of these in my backyard in Eastern NC. The moth and a hummingbird were feeding on a lavendar butterfly bush.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on December 8, 2008 12:00 PM.

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