No Justice for a Creeper

Albuna fraxini - Virginia Creeper Clearwing profile view
Another thrilling find for me, and this one a first: the Virginia Creeper Clearwing moth pictured was sitting quite still on a leaf (possibly Virginia creep? I really should know more about plants!) at the Canoe Meadow Audubon Sanctuary in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Presumably this is a wasp mimic and given the plump abdomen, it is also a female resting up for some ovipositing. I had a hard time doing it justice, truly, and the biggest reason was the relentless mosquitoes. I loathe bug spray, but recently after being hounded to hell by hordes of bloodsuckers, I declared that I would break my long held abstinence. Apparently, I am a liar, Either that or I have so habitually gone without it that I can’t remember to spray it. (Of course buying some in the first place would help, too! Ha!) A secondary limitation was the position of the moth in the brush. It was deep enough where pushing in might have rustled branches and broken its state of placidity; I didn’t want to risk it. So it involved some awkward positions to hold while I shot. Being on a flat leaf also reduces angles, and I wasn’t ready to manipulate the leaf which also might potentially scare it off. One other thing I had trouble with, was getting the detail in the beautiful antennae; the white patches were consistently blown out. And so it goes, but all in all, I was still thrilled to see it, and I am very happy to have it in my archives, even if the photos aren’t perfect.

(A note below the second photo on “clearwing” moths if you’re interested.)

Albuna fraxini - Virginia Creeper Clearwing dorsal view

In my previous two posts I have featured the Hummingbird and Snowberry Clearwing moths which are members of family Sphingidae, the Sphinx moths, a.k.a. Hawk-moths. This Virginia Creep Clearwing is a member of the actual Clearwing family, Sesiidae. You may be saying, “It doesn’t even have clearwings!” But many of the others in its family do have transparent wings, as most (if not all; I haven’t researched it enough to say definitively) are wasp mimics. The mimicry in many is amazingly accurate, a stunning, awe-inspiring product of evolution.


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