Hawkmoth (Hemaris thysbe)

Yes the Hemaris thysbe, commonly known as the hummingbird clearwing, is a moth of the Sphingidae (hawkmoth) family.

They are still (in some places) quite common. They were that way 35 years ago – amid the many wildflowers of midwest heartland – Indiana, where I grew up.

Clearwing Hawkmoth (Hemaris thysbe) photographer: Mike Boone • CC BY-SA 2.5

But due to massive use of chemical spraying, dredging anddraining of land, invasive plant removal (honeysuckle),  of those wild flowers (loss of orchids) – the natural habitat of the  Hawkmoths has all but disappeared.  Thus it is no real surprise they too are becoming a rare sighting. They still exist due to plant availability of modern suburbia – but that is also greatly mixed with chemical cocktails.  Despite them not listed as endangered, their necessary habitat is taking quite a hit. Setting the species up for a collapse due to unrecoverable systemic shock.

When I was a kid in the early-mid ’60s and in 4-H, my passion was entomology: I still love it a lot!   I collected specialty species – one of them was the Hawkmoths.  I never ventured – because of 4-H regulations on my 4-H collections – outside of my county: Warren.  During my 5th and 6th 4-H years (’64-’65)  I collected specific for the Hawkmoths.  I ended up with 10 boxes of moths, covering 15 species and 21 variants.

Recent taxonomic changes (from the 1970s) collapsed the many species listings back to one single species (Hemaris thysbe) having hundreds of variations.  Someone, may one day, when genetic testing becomes as easy and inexpensive as litmus paper – will no doubt test all the remaining species variants for DNA profile variation.  Then maybe restoring a number of the original taxnomic labels.  But for now… they are all: regardless of color, wing pattern, and more …  Hemaris thysbe w/variants.

Let’s hope there are still H. thysbe variants around when that time comes.