Nessus Sphinx & a boiling rain

What on earth is going on around here? Two posts in one day? Well, all I can say is that this sighting was just too nice to keep hanging around waiting to be written about.

Yesterday, I packed a lunch and Don, Sabrina and I tripped on over to Mill Pond Conservation Area to check out the dragonfly and other insect activity. Unfortunately, soon after we got there, a thunderstorm blew in, but not before I shot the above photo of a Nessus Sphinx moth (Amphion floridensis – Hodges # 7873) nectaring on the abundant phlox Dame’s rocket flowers that grow in drifts around the parking area (thanks to Cathy and Doug for the correct ID of the flowers!). The moth moved quickly from flower to flower, so I had a couple of brief opportunities to shoot stills, but then it occurred to me that it might be fun to shoot a little movie clip as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to adjust the camera focus before the moth moved away, but I think the clip is still fun to watch as it gives some idea of how much these moths resemble hummingbirds when feeding on flowers. If you would like to know more about this species of moth, visit Bill Oehlke’s Nessus moth page.

I mentioned yesterday’s thunderstorm. Here’s a little movie clip of part of the lake as seen from the van where we took refuge to eat our picnic lunch. The rain was coming straight down and made the water really boil up. Pretty neat.

[tabs]Nessus Sphinx moth, Amphion floridensis[/tags]

11 Responses to “Nessus Sphinx & a boiling rain”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    Wow, bev, that Nessus Sphinx is amazing. The movie clip does capture just how much it looks and acts like a hummingbird. Great idea filming that. Beautiful thunderstorm too. So glad that you, Don, and Sabrina are getting out and looking around.

  2. Cicero Sings Says:

    I love that picture of the moth … an amazing moth. I watched the video … it sure didn’t let the grass grow under its wings … kept you hoppin’ to keep up.

  3. Pamela Says:

    Hi Bev:

    Beautiful Nessus Sphinx–just saw my first of the season, also feeding on phlox, today. (We almost got highspeed last week, but we are just out of range, so no movies for me yet, but more towers are to go up this summer.)

  4. Cathy Says:

    Bev, I loved the movies. Awesome Nessus Sphinx moth. We’ve not had a rain like that yet this year! They keep going around us.

    It’s so nice to see your lovely environs out from under ice and snow.

    This spring I discovered that what I’d been calling ‘phlox’ was ‘dame’s rocket’. I think the latter has 4 petals versus the phlox’s 5.

    Oh, I enjoyed your description of the June Bug’s habit of spoiling and evening out :0) I know they’re harmless but the give me the heebie jeebies.

  5. DougT Says:

    Nessus Sphinx is one of my favorites. Great photo and movie clip. We get them nectaring on milkweeds at the front of the museum. We tried putting one in the butterfly exhibit once, thinking it would be really cool to see it nectaring in there. Unfortunately it was not a happy experience. It went right to the ceiliong, never came down, and died a couple of days later. Needless to say, we have not repeated the experiment.

  6. DougT Says:

    P.S. I beleive that the moth is nectaring on dame’s rocket rather than phlox. Phlox has 5 petals. Dame’s rocket (like all good cruciefers) has 4.

  7. bev Says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone. Yes, that Nessus Sphinx is a beautiful moth. I love seeing them, but they’re so quick you usually don’t get much of a look before they are gone. Interesting story about the one at the museum, Doug. I can imagine that they wouldn’t adapt at all well to confinement. Also, thanks Doug and Cathy for the proper ID for the flowers. I’ve always just thought of them as “phlox”, but glad to know what they actually are. I’ll make a note of the change in the above text.

  8. Wayne Says:

    Bev – the Sphinx is great – they are very hard to photograph because they’re just like hummingbirds. There and gone again. I tried one on the azaleas earlier in the spring and not a single one turned out, and that turned out to be my only chance.

    Very much enjoyed the rain movie. It may get me through today. We have 95F and no rain in the forecast through next Wednesday, not really.

  9. bev Says:

    Wayne – I rarely get such a good chance to follow one for more than a fleeting moment. I was thinking of you and the lack of rain down your way. It looks like we’re going to the opposite this year — a lot of heat and high humidity with thunderstorms. This weekend will be in the 80s. I noticed the humidex is showing over 100 already today.

  10. Laiku Oh Says:

    I never knew that a moth could fly THAT fast. I always thought of moths as sluggish in the night lights. That’s really incredible footage. I think I saw a moth similar to that one. It’s called the hummingbird moth, I believe?

  11. bev Says:

    Laiku – Yes, moths can fly very fast. Quite a number of the nocturnal moths also hover around flowers just like the Nessus Sphinx, only most of us are not aware of them because we’re not out in our gardens after dark. The Hummingbird moth (Hemaris thysbe) is very similar to the Nessus, except that it has wings with clear sections (membranous without scales — the scales on the clear section fall off shortly after the moth ecloses). You may well have seen them in gardens around flowers. Many people mistake them for bees because they hover and then “buzz” away so quickly (their wings make a buzzing sound).

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