Photo of the Week: Hummingbird Moth

Hummingbird moth. Photo by Steven SeveringhausA snowberry clearwing moth, commonly known as a hummingbird moth, sips nectar from a prairie sage bloom on the High Line. Photo by Steven Severinghaus

The High Line’s gardens aren’t just visited and appreciated by people, there are also a host of six- and eight-legged bugs who drop by. You’ll find the beloved honeybee, innocuous milkweed bugs and corn spiders, lesser-liked oriental beetles, a variety of beautiful butterflies, and even beneficial bugs like ladybug and lacewings that our gardeners purposefully release in order to combat pests. One of the rarer sights, a hummingbird moth, Hemaris diffinis, was captured earlier this month by High Line Photographer – and documenter of all things winged – Steven Severinghaus.

A hummingbird moth is an aptly named insect whose audible humming, large body size (up to 2.5 inches!), and hovering feeding method can make it easily confused with actual hummingbirds. Much like hummingbirds – and unlike traditional moths – you’ll see these guys foraging for nectar during the daytime. They might be a little scary looking for us non-entomologists, but just remember that they – like many other insects in the garden – play an important role, in this case pollination.

See the hummingbird moth in action!

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