Is it a bumblebee? Is it a hummingbird? No! This rather bizarre yet interesting species is a hummingbird moth. More accurately known as the Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis).
This moth was busily feeding on the Lantana in front of the house when I spotted it the other day. Honestly I wasn't familiar with this creature at all. My husband ran inside to get the camera so we could take some shots. It was very difficult to get any good pictures...this little guy really wasn't particularly interested in posing for the camera.
Like a hummingbird this moth hovers before each flower when it is feeding (unlike a bumblebee which must land) but it has a furry thorax like a bee and the Clearwing has black and yellow bands like a bee too. The Clearwing Moth is in the Sphinx Moth family (Sphingidae) and flies around and feeds during the day.
Feeding on the nectar of lantana
Clearwing Moth and Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on lantana
Like all butterflies and moths they lay eggs on host plants. The Clearwing chooses plants from the honeysuckle family which include snowberry (hence their name) and also cherry, plum and viburnums. The caterpillars spin their cocoons in the leaf litter in the fall and emerge in the spring from the ground.
According to my research the hummingbird moths are common in most gardens. Honestly, this is the first year I have ever seen one in my garden and according to the documented records for Georgia they are not that common in my area.
They are almost as fascinating to watch as my beloved hummingbirds. I will be looking at adding some more host plants to my garden for these wonderful creatures!