In my last post, featuring a Hummingbird Clearwing moth, I forgot to mention that on that particular day I also saw a Snowberry Clearwing moth, both of which are Hemaris sp. (as is probably evident at first glance); I was unable to get a shot off on it, as it was here and gone in a moment. Yesterday, however, I found another Snowberry Clearwing, and this one was the most conducive to shooting at 1:1 or near 1:1 ratios of all the clearwing moths I have seen this summer. (It helped that the moth was very preoccupied while feeding on a butterfly bush with its myriad clusters of little flowers; that kept it in one place (relatively speaking) for a good amount of time (relatively speaking).) And I have to say, it is a real treat for me; these moths are simply beautiful and striking in their form, color, mimicry and movement. I didn’t quite get the perfect photo, as it was still jitterbugging around, but getting anything in focus that close up with my big diffuser was rewarding.
While the Snowberry and Hummingbird Clearwings are similar in appearance, I find the easiest way to tell them apart is to check the legs. The Snowberry has black legs, while the Hummingbird’s are mostly cream-colored. Apparently the underbelly of the Snowberry is also black (which is somewhat evident in the photo above) and a distinguishing feature. In my experience, the Snowberry moths tend to be somewhat smaller, and lack the reddish-brown band on the abdomen typical of the Hummingbird Clearwing. They also look a bit more like a bumblebee than their bigger cousins.