A little over a week ago, I commented to Romie that we'd not seen any Hummingbird Moths (Hemarus diffinis) yet in the gardens. I remember last year, when we saw our first one and wondered what it was. We were totally fascinated with it and could stand in the garden for a very long time watching them flit from bloom to bloom.
Not even three days after I'd made that comment, I saw one. It was headed for the Monarda and it was then that I remembered how much they liked that last year, too. Just as we have our favorite foods, the insects do too and we may not see certain ones until their favorites start blooming.
The Monarda is in bloom now and at any given moment you can go out to Max's Garden and catch a glimpse of the Hummingbird Clearwing Moths. They're not the easiest things to photograph, but they stick around long enough to give you the opportunity to try several shots.
If you're close enough to them, you can hear the beating of their wings, much like a hummingbird's, which is part of the reason they got their common name. The other reason is because of their hovering abilities. They give the appearance of a small hummingbird as they go from flower to flower, drinking nectar.
Since the moths are so plentiful, our gardens have been home to the larval stages. I was witness to some procreation going on between two of the moths, so I would imagine we will see some caterpillars eventually.
Here is what the caterpillar looks like. In its green form it shares some of the same characteristics as the Tobacco and Tomato Hornworms. There is a brown form too, which I managed to see last summer. These photos were used with my permission on Bill Oehlke's site.
The range of the Hummingbird Moth goes as far north as the Yukon (but only in the eastern half of the U.S.), so grow some Monarda and keep an eye out for those hummer moths!
EDIT: Caterpillars spotted on July 23rd!