IF I DIDN’T KNOW BETTER, I would have thought it a hummingbird, this rapid wing-beating insect that swooped into my yard Sunday afternoon, drinking the sweet nectar of the pink-striped Calibrachoa.
Often confused with a hummingbird, this white-lined Sphinx moth whips its wings at up to 85 beats per second.
No wonder I found photographing this fascinating creature an incredible challenge. Perched on a step ladder at near eye level with a hanging flower basket I’d gotten for Mother’s Day just hours earlier, I tried to focus my lens on the energetic moth. I mean, honestly, could the moth simply just hover in one spot for maybe a minute?
It didn’t help either that the wind swayed the basket and that I’m a teeny bit afraid of anything with flapping wings. When the moth circled my head and seemed to take an interest in the floral-patterned shirt I was wearing, I grew a little nervous.
And then the husband, unbeknown to me, grabbed at my pant leg. I screamed. He laughed. The moth zoomed away.
Later, I would read online that the Sphinx moth, since it has no ears, could not possibly have been frightened by my screech. Rather the quick jerk of my camera and my rapid descent from the ladder likely temporarily caused the moth to exit from the patio premises.
Apparently, though, the lure of that sweet nectar was too much as the moth returned. I climbed onto the ladder again and then tried some under the basket shots until the moth, seemingly intoxicated by all that drinking, zig zagged towards the woods.
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN, or tried to photograph, a Sphinx moth?
© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling