Synanthedon fatifera, Lesser Viburnum Clearwing Moth, on Pycnanthemum muticum, Clustered Mountain Mint, in my garden yesterday afternoon.
I was showing a visitor all the pollinator activity on the Pycnanthemum. I identified 8 different bee species in less than a minute. Then I saw ... THAT.
In my peripheral vision I thought it might be a wasp from the general shape and glossiness. Once I focussed on it, I recognized it as a moth.
How did I get "moth" from that?!
- Body shape: It doesn't have any narrowing along the body, which wasps and bees have.
- Eyes: Large round eyes on the sides of the head, unlike the "wraparounds" of bees and wasps.
- Antenna: They just looked "mothy" to me.
I've seen other Clearwing Moths, Sesiidae, so that gave me something to search on. The slender body was something I'd never seen before. Comparing with other images of Clearwing Moths, I was able to narrow it down to the genus Synanthedon. Then I used BugGuide and other authoritative sources to compare the coloration of the body and legs, and the markings on the wings, to key it out to species.
Oblique shot, showing the wing markings and venation.
It was nectaring on Pycnanthemum muticum, Clustered Mountain Mint, in my garden. This patch of Pycnanthemum is just a few feet from the large Viburnum dentatum, Arrowwood, in my garden.
Another common name for this species is Arrowwood Borer. It seems likely that this adult either just emerged from my shrub, or was attracted to it. I'll look to see if I can find any borers still in the shrub.