When we first saw this huge moth feeding on the butterfly bush, my first thought was, “It looks like a cross between a hummingbird and a bumblebee!”
It’s actually a Bumblebee Moth (Hemaris diffinis), also known as a Snowberry Clearwing Moth, to the best of my bug-identifying ability. The wings, which are partially clear, can barely be seen in this photo because they are moving too fast for my camera setting.
What makes it interesting to me is what is known as its Batesian mimicry. This is a phenomenon in which an organism has developed to mimic the appearance of another in order to take advantage of the mimicked creature’s cred, so to speak; in this case, that of a bumblebee. In other words, since Bumblebee Moths look like bumblebees, predators may avoid them, assuming they can sting like bumblebees.
Larvae of the Bumblebee Moth feed on honeysuckle, snowberry bushes (hence the alternative name), and dogbane. They are found mostly east of the US Continental Divide. There’s a similar species in the California area, Hemaris thetis.
Every time I find something new in my garden, and that could be every day if I looked carefully enough, I’m amazed and impressed by the variety and complexity of life in such a small, suburban place. The tenacity of these creatures and their phenomenal ability to find the very plants they need to sustain themselves is unbelievable.
Hats off to you, Bumblebee Moth.