Photo: Clearwing hummingbird moth goes incognito

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Our photo of the day features the most majestic of masked moths.

That hair, that mask! How charming is the clearwing hummingbird moth? This shot was taken in Vermont by photographer Elise Marks, who writes:

I couldn't believe my luck having this Clearwing Hummingbird Moth perch on yarrow, right next to me. They never sit still, as you can see its wings vibrating. There are four species of hummingbird moths in North America. This is a Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) female. Unlike most moths, Hummingbird Moths fly during the day. They fly and move just like hummingbirds. Like them, they can remain suspended in the air in front of a flower while they unfurl their long tongues and insert them to sip their nectar. They even emit an audible hum like hummingbirds. Like most moths they have a very long tongue which they carry rolled under their chins and that they use to reach the nectar of long-necked flowers. Hummingbird moths are members of the sphinx moth family (Sphingidae), which have heavy bodies and long front wings. The wings of hummingbird moths are clear, with a black or brown border, and are nearly invisible when they fly. Males have a flared tail like that of a hovering hummingbird.

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