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The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group, a place where everyone is welcome to note the observations you have made of the natural world around you. Insects, weather, fish, critters, birds and plants: all are worthy additions to the bucket. Ask questions if you have them and someone here may well have an answer.
Gooseville, WI

Plump white clumps sway between the purple and pink pastels of my August phlox garden. Sweet nectared blooms unwind from tight swirly buds to exude a heady perfume that hangs in the stillness or is carried away on the slightest brush of breeze.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are drawn to this delight of flower power and so are the great pretenders, complete with fuzzy antennae, six pale yellow legs and long hollow feeding tube tongues. I forgot to mention the widely fanned tail that functions as a back-and-forth, up-and-down directional rudder.


Hummingbird Clearwing Moth
Hemaris thysbe

Clearwing moths flit and dart from flower to flower in a suspended blur of motion in full daylight. My camera can't keep up. Most other moths prefer to fly under the cover of darkness and are drawn to my porch light at night.


In flight, their 2-inch wings beat a quiet hum if you listen.


In the caterpillar stage, it's plump and green and sports a perky horn on its rear end. In Wisconsin, it over-winters in a brown cocoon cushioned on the ground among scattered leaf litter.

Hummingbird Clearwing

In late spring it emerges from the forest floor as a fat, fuzzy adult with solid colored reddish-brown wings. During its first flight, the central wing scales drop off leaving clear wings framed in burgundy with veins of stained glass.


I watch in fascination as it uncurls the hollow proboscis tucked under its chin to probe the center sweetness of a flower. It flicks and hovers pausing for a second then moves on to the next nectar ladened bloom.


A garden laced with phlox, beebalm, honeysuckle or verbena will hopefully attract these delightful hummingbird pretenders to your backyard.

Next time your neighbor asks if you've seen the tiny hummingbird babies humming in the phlox patch, just smile and nod. It's totally OK to share this bucket about the great pretenders.


What's happening in your backyard? This bucket is now open for your thoughts and observations.



"Green Diary Rescue" is Back!

"Green Diary Rescue" will be posted every Saturday at 1:00 pm Pacific Time on the Daily Kos front page.  

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive.

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