Stained glass moth

That’s not its name of course — it’s the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, Hemaris thysbe.  We usually see this moth hovering over flowers (see previous post on this species) as it seeks out the nectar inside, but I had a rare opportunity to view the moth at rest the other day.  The view through the clear wings looked a lot like stained glass.

hummingbird clearwing moth at rest on prairie sage

hummingbird clearwing moth at rest

You can actually see the dark lower edge of the hindwing through the larger forewing which has a reddish-brown border.

These moths have been much more common in the backyard garden this summer, as have the butterflies and bees, but it’s unusual to see them sitting still instead of busily flitting about.

12 thoughts on “Stained glass moth

    • A good question. I wonder if the scales on butterfly and moth wings add resistance, and that perhaps it’s more energetically economical to have scale-less (i.e., clear) wings.

  1. I’ve tried to photograph these amazing moths while feeding on plants and have never been able to get clear shots like yours of the wings. Great job, Sue, in taking advantage of the opportunity to get such beautiful shots when you caught one at rest. I had assumed that they rested occasionally, but had only seen them in a state of almost constant motion.

    • I thought hummingbirds beat their wings fast, but I can’t stop the action of the moth wing with my current camera–don’t have a fast enough shutter speed even at 1/4000.

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