April 23, 2024

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Darwin, Me and the White Faced Meadowhawk

What does Darwin a Whitefaced Meadowhawk and myself have in common?  Well, after the week of discoveries I’ve had I kinda know how Darwin must have felt on exploring the Galapagos Islands. OK, I’m not even close to Darwin but I’ve had an amazing week of firsts for me in my little part of the world.  Today’s latest discovery was a incredibly beautiful red dragonfly which turned out to be a White Faced Meadowhawk, Sympetrum obtrusum, also called a Red Skimmer.

Whitefaced Meadowhawk

I have seen all kinds of dragonflies and damselflies over the years but never a red dragonfly.  Couple that with my first ever sighting of a Hummingbird Moth and one nasty looking spider who’s web I stumbled into on Sunday and I’ve been on quite a roll the past week.

After a little research on the Whitefaced Meadowhawk I found out they the male prefers to hang out near grassy areas on shorelines of ponds or other still or slow moving bodies of water waiting for a female, hunting insects or just guarding his territory. I must have seen more than a dozen of them today at the waters edge. You can tell by looking at its head how this dragonfly gets his name.  The fact that they hunt and eat other insects dispelled the notion I had that their adult life was short lived, which would have explained how I could have missed  seeing one all these years, after all there are aquatic insects that hatch, mate and die all in the same day, a sad life indeed!  Another characteristic of the males are the black markings down the length of its long body. Overall the average length of a Red Skimmer is around 1 1/4  inches long.  Each wingtip also has a small dark spot on it.  Your best bet to find the  Meadowhawk is between late Summer through early Fall at the waters edge.  Their distributed throughout the Northern part of the US and Canada and are quite common from what I’ve read.  I’ll be back at the pond today doing my best Darwin impression and if I’m lucky I may just find discovery number 4 for the week, if not I ‘ll at least get a few more photos of my new discovery, the  Whitefaced Meadowhawk.

Enjoy the Outdoors!!

A Hummingbird Moth??

Hummingbird or Bumblebee Moth

Hummingbird Moth in the Adirondacks

For more than 48 years I’ve been roaming the woods and meadows of the Adirondacks and I have never in my life seen a Hummingbird Moth, the strangest part of  all is that up until a week ago I had NEVER EVEN heard of a Hummingbird Moth.  I don’t remember where I saw or heard the name, but zipping by my head today as I sat on the porch steps next to the flower garden was one of the freakiest looking insects I had ever laid eyes on and miraculously I knew what it was. I didn’t get the greatest pics since it didn’t stick around long, you can bet though that I’ll be checking out the flowers tomorrow to see if he comes back.

The Hummingbird Moth, Hemaris diffinis is also called the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth and can be found throughout most of North America. They fly just like a hummingbird, hence the name, their about 2 inches in size and have a very long proboscis (think beak) so they can get at the nectar deep down inside tubular flowers.

You can see in the picture that their wings are fairly clear and their body resembles that of a bumblebee except for the rear end which looks more like short tail feathers.

Clearwing Snowberry Moth

Clear Wings

All in all it’s one freaky looking insect as it zips from flower to flower but at the same time it’s a pretty cool looking moth. They can be found flying around all times of the day, rain or shine and prefer flowers with a lot of nectar.  Next time you see what you think is a large Bumblebee or Hummingbird give it a second look and you may just get a glimpse of the Hummingbird Moth, indeed it was a rare treat for me.

Enjoy the Outdoors !!