Friday, October 7, 2011

Mystery Solved! The Case of the "Bumble Bee with a Crawfish Tail"

When I was 15 years old, I was in the backyard of our house in Virginia when bubble bees gathered around the flower bush to gather pollen.  I stopped to watch them, and saw the most amazing creature I had ever seen:  a bumble bee with a crawfish tail.


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-h59C3Jfbq-o/Th5di7DOBbI/AAAAAAAAFh0/HMPeniZJLy0/s800/Red-SnowberryClearwingMoth2.jpg
I dashed in the house, yelling for my Mom to follow me, to have her identify this amazing bug.  But by the time we got out there, it was gone.

The next day, I asked my Biology teacher if she knew what it was.  She'd never heard of a bug that looked like a bumble bee with a crawfish tail.

I saw another one this summer while visiting my Mother in Missouri.


It was only the second one I had ever seen, and this was 19 years after the first!  My mother didn't see it.  Again.  Unlike 19 years ago, there was now the internet to help me search.  But looking for a 'bumble bee that has a crawfish tail' wasn't doing anything for me.

That bring us to three days ago.  Out in Malone courtyard during painting class, one of my instructors went wild when she discovered this:

Photo by Beverly West Leach, "A White Lined Sphinx Moth that was busy sucking nectar on some Lantana in Malone Hall courtyard "

The next day, I was walking past the same flowers and saw a Humming Bird Moth

http://www.wunderground.com/data/wximagenew/n/novembergale/214.jpg
and thought, "Hey!  Mrs. Leach is right.  They DO look like humming birds!"

But as I was looking at the image, I realized that, other than the coloring being wrong, that sure looks a lot like my mysterious critter.  As you can tell by the first images, I finally found my bug!

It took 19 years to learn that my 'Bumble Bee with a Crawfish Tail' is actually called a snowberry clearwing moth.

And although I've only seen 2 in my entire life, they're actually pretty common in America.

http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_for_colorbox/species_images/SnowberryClearwing_small.jpg

It's exciting and relieving to know 1. I didn't make them up, and 2. what they're actually called.

The mystery is finally solved.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you posted this - I just saw one and was amazed!

    ReplyDelete

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