Entomologists of MeFi! WTF is this weird-ass bug thing?
May 20, 2016 5:52 PM   Subscribe

I came across this weird bug feeding on a lilac bush while walking my dog this evening. I have never seen anything remotely like it.

It moved almost like a hummingbird and was silent (no buzzing). The tail was almost.. lobster-like in shape, with very distinct yellow and black stripes. The head looked like it belonged to a completely different creature. It never stopped moving, so I couldn't get a clear shot of the wings, but you can see the orange blur of them in the photo. I live in Southwestern Ontario, if that helps.
posted by torisaur to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My best guess is that is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth.
posted by bibliotropic at 6:00 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yep - hummingbird moth. I thought it was a hummingbird the first time I saw one until I watched it for a minute or two.
posted by summerstorm at 6:02 PM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Wow! You guys are fast. I have never seen one before, that is super cool. I wish it had been still so I could have gotten a good look at the wings. Thanks!
posted by torisaur at 6:07 PM on May 20, 2016

Hummingbird moth! I love those guys. They Might Be Giants wrote a song about them.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:31 PM on May 20, 2016

Oooh, I love hummingbird moths! The first time I saw one at Disney World, I spent a good half hour trying to get a good pic of what turned out to be an Amphion floridensis or Nessus Sphinx Moth.

You may want to report the sighting at http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org.
posted by gemmy at 7:44 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've only ever seen one of those while camping in Northern Ontario, far away from the internet. We argued about it as a family all week--bird or bug? BIRD OR BUG???--until we finally got into cell tower range and could look it up. Birdbug!
posted by looli at 9:41 PM on May 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

The first and only time I saw one of these was in the mid 1990s, and I remember I stopped dead and stared for half an hour! Such a cool little creature. Back then there wasn't much internet and it was years before I was able to look it up (hilariously what I Googled was "hummingbird + moth"). Our ability to research has come such a long way!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:39 AM on May 22, 2016

I first encountered one of these guys on Isle Royale, but have since seen them in New Jersey and western Massachusetts. They are Sphinx moths, which is a fairly huge family of moths. They are diurnal, but I've seen them active after dusk as well.

Cool thing - the wings are fully covered with scales when they hatch from the pupa, but the scales are lost during the first flight.
posted by plinth at 6:23 PM on May 22, 2016

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