Dear Mom –
I know you’ve been trying desperately to capture a few images of the giant hummingbird-like moth visiting your flowers. As it happens, the same flowers that bring you all the hummingbirds also bring you these massive insects.
I’m sorry to report I couldn’t find the same species you’re seeing, at least not in my neck of the woods. Nevertheless, I did happen to stumble upon another of these marvelous creatures while taking a walk yesterday morning.
I spied what I thought was a hummingbird flitting about someone’s flower garden. After looking both ways just as you taught me, I crossed the street and played stalker on the sidewalk while aiming a camera into their flowerbed.
Sure, I got some strange looks by passersby, yet I’m never one to let that stop me from snapping photos of cool things. Well, at least until they call the cops… Then I run!
Nothing could have chased me away, however, for this beauty was as large as a female ruby-throated hummingbird and deserved my attention. (I say ‘as large as’ for a ruby-throated hummingbird showed up to defend her food, and that provided an opportunity to see them side by side before the moth flew away. Amazing thing to see an insect and bird in the same space where both are equal in size and magic…)
This critter is a white-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata). Like your sphinx, it feeds like a hummingbird: flitting from flower to flower, wings always going at high speed, never sitting still for more than a second. Unlike hummingbirds, though, these moths never land while eating.
There are plenty of moths who do this: only a fraction of all moths, sure, but still quite a few species. You’d be amazed at how difficult it’s been trying to figure out which one is haunting the family farm and vexing you so.
All we need is a good look: a few good photos to solve the mystery.
Meanwhile, I hope these satiate your want for spying one with a bit more clarity, a bit more color. I can’t tell you how marvelous it was to be so close to one while it tended to the business at hand without worrying about me.
And when I’m out there next, we’ll see what we can do about identifying your visitor.
All my love!