Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nectaring At the Monarda, A video

Monarda didyma has been a real joy in the garden. My friend Sarah stopped by today and commented that the garden was alive. She was staring right at the very busy party going on at Marshall's Delight.... a new monarda that was added to my garden this year.

Along with all the bees, moths and a few butterfly, was an odd looking bee. Quite large with bumble bee stripes and big wings. He darted, dipped and hovered about. Which is not at all bee like...more hummingbird, but this was not a hummer. I wanted it to be a hummer, but wishes don't make it a hummer! (Frances, we wait for the Holy Grail Photo opportunity)

Sarah said it had clear wings, and that, it turns out is the key to it's identity; along with his especially large bee looking body, his darting and hovering and the give away antenna!

We have a Snowberry Clearwing Moth nectaring at the monarda. I tried, really tried to get his photo...they move very fast and my camera is unable to capture him in a still photo. But I was able to shoot a short video clip!





Really neat moth, isn't it!

His official name is Hemaris diffinis. Mr. I Don't Blog or Garden thought it was a hummer. No reflection on him; all that hovering and darting about could lead one to believe it's a hummingbird. There is a Hemaris that is often confused with a hummingbird and he's called Hummingbird Clearwing Moth! No bee stripes. He's a hummingbird mimic, not a bee mimic.

The Clearwing is also known as a sphinx moth or hawk moth, but unlike other moths in that family he is diurnal or a day feeder. He nectars on monarda, native honeysuckle and snowberry bush. He is an important pollinator and is attracted to flowers with these traits: flowers are open at night, white or pale coloration, sweet fragrance, horizontal to pendant posture, abundant sucrose-rich nectar, and a long nectar tube. Phlox fits in there!

They pupate underground....in an dark tube like capsule. Here are photos of a moth emerging from a capsule that I shot this spring in my garden. I don't know which moth, but it is an interesting photo and will give you an idea of the work a moth does to break out!






You've probably found pupa in the soil while planting in your garden. It's exciting to know exactly what they are and that a sphinx or hawk moth will be visiting our flowers.

Gail


on the one ton temple bell
a moon-moth, folded into sleep,
sits still.


~Hakui by Taniguchi Buson

50 comments:

  1. Oh Gail that is a wonderful video. We have those little guys here and only knew it as hummingbird moth. Thanks for the real name, but we will probably still refer to it as the above. I am blown away by your ability to get a video on the blog. That is way beyond me. You might want to fix the spelling of my name though, so people don't think I am a man. HA

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  2. Yes, thanks for the real name! I knew it was a moth but not sure what kind. Some friends were skeptical but now I can tell them. Those pics are awesome!

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  3. Ah, how sad. I shall have to forego the video, being stuck in the 20th century with dial-up.

    Now I will have to google your moth, to share the excitement.

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  4. Cool video! I didn't know that they pupate underground. Now I'll be on the lookout when I'm digging - I'd hate to ignorantly destroy creatures I enjoy so much when they're all grown up and hovering around the flowers.

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  5. Frances,

    Is it me or blogger today, but I keep losing my comments! Sorry about the i! It's corrected. Believe me...you can do the video...my camera has a video setting and the moving it to my computer is the same as moving photos...the rest was following blogger instructions.

    Very cool family of moths...I think that I have seen the Hummingbird Clearwing, too.

    Gail

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  6. Tina,

    I was glad to find out it wasn't some really mean bee! Seriously, I read at one sight that the guy liked this moth especially because he didn't hang out on poop like other ones, do!

    Gail

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  7. Jo,

    Oh, I am sorry, it is a neat little video and I think you would enjoy it!
    I meant to post a photo from another site along with the video, just in case the video didn't work.

    It is a neat moth...do you have something similar in your part of the world?

    Gail

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  8. entangled,

    It was strange the first time I found one...it looked rather creepy but I remember thinking that it could be something neat and left it alone. I imagine most of the time we don't notice them in dark soil.

    Glad you like the video...it's a fun feature and I just noticed we have it at blogger!

    Gail

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  9. Very cool video. Those moths are new to me. I am always learning in the blogging world - it's great!
    And being a poetry nut, I love the hakui.

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  10. Hi Gail,
    My garden is full of them and every other insect it seems. Well, they all have their jobs to do so I will try to avoid the wasps and carry on.
    Life is good.
    Donna

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  11. Cindy,

    Me, too...and I love learning about new plants and what grows in other parts of the world! These moths are fascinating to me. Do you write your own poems?

    gail

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  12. Donna/mother nature,

    So many bugs and I try to remember that about the wasps, too...they do play an important role...just stay away from me! The wasps can get very territorial...they think they own my porch!

    gail

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  13. A wonderful video, Gail -- and a very, very happy birthday to you. :) I hope it is a day full of gladness and surprise.

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  14. Gail, I think I have these in my garden, too! Someone else posted a photo of one of these the other day, but I can't remember who. That's when I realized what they were. Such interesting creatures; when I saw one here I wasn't sure if it was a bee or a moth.

    Great video--that's something I should try, since I can't get anything that flies to stand still for me:)

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  15. I'm familiar with one type of sphinx moth that develops from the tomato horn worm. I always try to have an extra tomato plant available to put the horn worm on so it can grow and metamorphose into this charming moth.

    Great post topic.
    Marnie

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  16. Gail, Happy Birthday! I hope you have a wonderful day.

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  17. Nancy,

    Thank you...and aren't the videos fun! Yours was so moving and I can't thank you enough for the deep feelings that bubbled up when I viewed it.

    Gail

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  18. rose,

    They are very interesting moths and I was glad to put a name to them. We have so many of the same plants so I am not at all surprised we share bugs.
    Would you like the ones that are eating the coneflower;-) I would never do that to you!

    Thank you for the birthday greetings!

    Have a delicious day...


    gail

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  19. Marnie,

    You are a generous gardener sharing your bounty with the soon to be sphnix moths! When I was checking this guy out there were many advertisements on how to rid one's garden of the terrible pests!

    It was a fun post and there was no way I could capture that guy with my digital camera!

    Gail

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  20. Gail, what a cool post! Thanks for sharing the video with us. That moth is certainly partying hearty! I don't think I've ever seen one of those moths in my garden ... now I'll be looking at every flying critter more closely!

    Hope it's a wonderful birthday!

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  21. Lovely vid Gail. I saw one of these moths in my garden too last year and was very surprised as my country was considered far too cold for them. But not anymore. I found out today (newspaper) that the climate change goes twice as quickly in Western Europe than it does in the rest of the world. :-(

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  22. Great idea of the video! I may try that with the Hummingbirds!

    I had a blurry pic of the Sphinx moth following the Holy Grail photo with the Flying Flowers posting. But my Sphinx did not have the bright Bumble Bee pattern on its back! I wonder if that could be a Male Female thing? Did not know they were underground babies. Neat....

    They do buzz quickly so the video was a brilliant thought!

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  23. cindy, There is probably some similar moth in your garden, maybe one of the night visitors! But venturing out to see when the mosquitoes are about takes bravery! So much fun to have this new video tab at blogger....glad you enjoyed it!


    Gail

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  24. YE,

    That is horrible news. When will be learn to take care of our earth! Why twice as fast?

    I know that we can get all excited that we can grow more plants and see different bugs, but I miss the winter snow and rain in the summers!

    Glad you enjoyed the video...new toy at blogger!

    gail

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  25. skeeter,

    Maybe you saw the Hummingbird Clearwing! One site said that their Extension Center kept getting calls with folks worried about the hummers having antenna! They reassured them all that it was Hummingbird Clearwing Moth!

    try the video...you will be captivated by it! On the other hand your photos of the hummers were wonderful!

    gail

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  26. Gail - I do write my own poetry but I've only written two recently. One Haiku - here and one I have on my non-gardening blog here. The garden is good inspiration though, I just need to make more of an effort :)

    ~Cindy

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  27. Cindy,

    Thank you for sharing them...I liked both and I could taste the asparagus as I read the haiku! A friend has invited me to join her writing group...I am not a serious writer...I think they are. Are you in a group?

    Gail

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  28. Gail, what a wonderful video - I love these moths, but I'd never seen the one with stripes before. Thanks so much for sharing it!

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  29. Kim,

    I am glad I stumbled upon my video function on both the camera and blogger! They are cool, glad you enjoyed it.

    gail

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  30. hi gail,
    i found you on my sis's blog (hoe and shovel).i love the video of the moth. he is so captivating to watch. i live in middle tn too --leiper's fork area and you?

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  31. Wow~ What a delightful video! and a wonderful post. So interesting!

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  32. marmee,

    Hello and welcome to clay and limestone! I live in the Hillwood area. Now you probably have fabulous soil, not this clay we have in Davidson County. You're sister is one of my favorite garden bloggers...and her garden is so lovely! Do you garden and/or blog?

    gail

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  33. dp,

    All with a digital camera and good old blogger! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    Gail

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  34. Great video, but I was Really Impressed that you found the larval pupa, etc.! We have a few different "hummingbird moths" (sphinx or hawk) here... a common one that I really like is the white-lined moth. It's larger and has distinctive markings as well as the "coral/red" underwings. Fun! :-)

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  35. Shady,

    I love knowing that these little creatures have a secret life in the soil and that they exist for the most part under our radar! I am now looking around to see the other hawk and sphinx moths!

    I was weeding and saw something in the mulch, it was so weird... at first I thought it was being I'm not sure what but something being attacked by ants, but it was a moth working very hard to get out! I took a few photos but a bit later couldn't locate it all all.

    Gail

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  36. I have played with the video feature on my camera before. My Pet friends could not believe I could clip my two cat’s claws so I had to prove it to them with a short video. I had to make a video with their fur cuts also! They think I drug the cats. LOL. Nope, I just have two really well behaved and trained girls…

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  37. Skeeter,

    First you whisper hummers and now cats! You are a multi-talented gardening woman!

    Gail

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  38. Hi Gail, great video! They are fascinating, amazing little creatures! We have them at the nursery - they mostly hang out around the annual phlox hanging baskets. I'll have to keep an eye out for them at the monarda. When we first saw them we wondered what they were. I said bug, my co-workers said hummingbird. I've seen plenty of hummingbirds up close, and that was no hummingbird.

    I asked Pop (of Mom & Pop, the nursery owners,) and as always he knew what it was. Too bad I'm not a betting woman!

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  39. garden girl,

    They are pretty incredible...there's so much fascinating life out there...so many opportunities to learn and blossom!

    I would bet on your knowledge every time!

    Gail

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  40. Gail -
    No I'm not in any type of writer's group. I'm not a serious writer either. I like to write but I don't dedicate a lot of time to it.

    ~Cindy

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  41. Hummer and Cat whisperer, Too funny....

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  42. Gail,
    Loved the cool video. I do the same thing at times when I can't focus in on the littlest creatures. I've taken lots of video of the butterflies recently... it's kind of nice to re-watch their busy activity.

    You have reminded me to use the video feature for the sphinx moth that comes out right at dusk. It flits around the pentas mostly but I haven't been able to capture it in a still photo. Very interesting about the pupa too. You were really good to get it on film errr.. disc. Your Monarda is still looking lovely!

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  43. Hi Gail,
    I'll give this another shot, since it appears that Blogger ate the comment I left last night. Of course I don't remember now what I said, lol!

    I've never seen that particular moth, but would welcome them into our garden! We've been missing the Sphinx Moths the past couple of years, but hope they will return this year. They seem to be on some sort of cycle around here. We love those guys!

    For shooting flitting insects, if you have a 'Continuous Shooting' mode on your camera, try that sometime for moths, butterflies and bees. It allows you to take shots quickly in succession, so you're bound to get a few good ones if you can just keep shooting. (So said the guy with 2 GB+ space on his camera, lol.) But the video was great! I've been itching to try that on my new camera but haven't found the right situation for it yet.

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  44. IVG,

    Hi...blogger lately has eaten my comments, swallowed them whole, photos, too! Very odd and now my computer is doing strange things...freezing, etc...Tomorrow it goes to Apple for a yearly tuneup!

    I shall have to get that darn camera instruction book out and really read it this time! No telling what tricks I can do if I know what I am doing! These cameras are amazing.... The video feature is really fun, I have to be sure I won't over use it.

    This is a good year for bugs...good and bad ones! My perfume of late is Off Deep Woods...the cat runs away when I come inside! I wonder what damage I am inflicting upon my brain cells.


    Lots of memory=lots of photos!

    gail

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  45. herself/Linda,

    Yes very cool..

    gail

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  46. I captured the moth/hummingbird this week and now I have to go see which one it is. I was hoping someone would chime in and tell me. It was a nice treat to come and see you had posted about it.

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  47. Hi Gail!
    We're having more thunder boomers right now as I type, with the potential for some serious stuff coming in later ... now I'm seriously in dread mode, but it will all work out eventually, even if our corn took a real beating last night. I'm really stumped now on that storm diverter I've been working on, but as soon as I can get it up and running, I'll use it to send rain your way and to Annie too!

    Curious... what camera do you use? My new one is a Fuji Finepix S700, and I just love it! It never ceases to amaze me with what it can do. And for under $200, what more can you ask for?

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  48. I guess I have a clearwing moth. I have several of them and they are doing their job. I love to watch them.

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  49. Dee/reddirtramblingsJuly 27, 2008 at 11:38 AM

    Gail, thank you. Thank you. I've wanted to know what they were as I have them everywhere I thought they were a type of bee. You have solved a mystery in my garden.~~Dee

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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