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.
on the one ton temple bell
a moon-moth, folded into sleep,
~Hakui by Taniguchi Buson