Reader DB sent in this terrific capture of a pair of Snowberry Clearwing Moths mating on her sunflowers.
Another name for the Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis) is Bumblebee Moth. Snowberry Clearwings are in the same family as Hummingbird Clearwing Moths (Hemaris thysbe). Snowberry Moths have yellow and black colors similar to Bumblebees while Hummingbird Clearwings, which are reddish brown and green, look more like Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
If you would like to attract clearwing moths to your garden, plant plenty of nectar-rich flowers that bloom in July especially. And even more importantly, plant the caterpillar food plants. The females deposit their eggs on honeysuckles, viburnums, blueberries, snowberry, and members of the rose family.
Another way to help clearwing moths is to NOT tidy up your garden in the fall. As is the case with so many species of Lepidoptera, and other insects, they overwinter in the leaf litter at the base of plants. Snowberry Clearwing Moths emerge in late spring and early summer from cocoons hidden in leaves.
Snowberry Clearwing Moth
Although there appear to be far fewer Lepidoptera on the wing this year, as compared to last year’s extraordinary numbers, one frequent visitor to gardens this summer is the Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus). Like butterflies and moths, skippers are members of the Order Lepidoptera and, like all Lepidoptera, they are distinguished from other insects by their scaled wings.
Skippers are characterized by, and named by, a darting (skipping) flight pattern. Skippers are also easy to identify from butterflies and moths by their antennae clubs that hook backward, like to a crochet hook.
The Silver-spotted Skipper caterpillars feed on members of the legume family, including Black Locust, Honey Locust, Hog Peanut, ticktrefoils (Desmodium) and False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa)
Notice the white sploges on the skipper’s under wing. The sploges resemble bird poop and are thought to be an evolutionary defense against predatory birds.
Silver-spotted Skipper Nectaring at Oriental Lily