Is it a bird? Is it a bee? No, it's a.... moth!
This moth has many names. Because its fuzzy amber yellow and black body resembles a bumble bee, it is called a bee moth, bumblebee moth, or bee hawk moth. Unlike other moths, you can see through its wings, so sometimes they are called clearwing moths. Finally, because they are active during the day, because of their size, and because they hover around flowers sipping nectar, members of their family are also called hummingbird moths.
As is usual for the Family Sphingidae, bee moth larvae (caterpillars) have a pointy "horn" or spike at the end of their abdomens and are called hornworms.
This short video shows a bee moth caterpillar feeding. Can you see its brownish thorn-like horn?
The caterpillars eat various shrubs, such as snowberry, or some small trees like cherry trees.
Once mature, larvae drop to the ground to pupate in the leaf litter before transforming into an adult moth.
The adults feed on nectar from flowers. They seem to be particularly attracted to bee balm (Monarda).
Aren't moths amazing?
And don't forget, it's National Moth Week.
Have you ever seen a bee moth? What did you think it was?
Next week is National Moth Week, so let's go crazy about moths!
This year geometrids are the featured moth family for National Moth Week. The name geometrid roughly translates as "earth measurer" and refers to the fact the larvae are mostly inchworms.
See our recent blog post about geometrid moths.
How to celebrate:
First, be sure to check the National Moth Week events page to see if there are any public events in your area. For example, here in Arizona there's a talk at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park in Tucson on July 28, 2018.
If there aren't any events, you can create some activities of your own. Check out the kids' page for an awesome coloring book to download, plus games and stories.
For some cool science in more depth, read this article about how Bogong Moths use magnetic fields to guide their long distance migrations in Australia.
Moth Blog Posts at Growing With Science:
If you ever want to learn more about moths, check out the moths category in the sidebar.
Or visit our growing list of children's books about moths and butterflies at Science Books for Kids.
Finally, we also have two Pinterest boards you might enjoy: All About Moths and Butterfly and Moth Feeders to Make.
Let us know how you celebrate National Moth Week.
Remember the caterpillar on the palo verde tree?
Now we have most parts of the life cycle.
And now a moth!
Turns out to be the Royal Poinciana Moth, Melipotis acontioides, or a close relative. Isn't that a great common name?
It turns out that I had found a similar moth a few weeks before. I didn't try to identify it at the time because I had no idea what it's food plant was.
Knowing the food plant, plus all the stages, makes it easier to figure out an insect's identity.
Arizona naturalists have some more photographs of the same species of moth found in June 1, 2005. I first found our caterpillars May 30, 2018.
Interested in moths? Don't forget National Moth Week events, which are July 21-29, 2018.