An Odd Day When Rain Makes Bugs Like Birds


Something is on the hostas ... Sept. 11, 2013, MMU.

Something is on the hostas … Sept. 11, 2013, MMU.

On Wednesday, it rained.

Only briefly, in the morning, and by afternoon, when the sun was again shining, our dry Iowa soil was dusty and dry again. The little rain we got didn’t put a dent into the desert that my corner of the heartland seems to be trying to become.

But, may it be a sign. The pattern—unusually dry weather, days flirting with 100s in September—is finally breaking down.

After the brief sprinkle, I was crossing the campus at MMU when I saw what I thought were a bunch of hummingbirds feeding at some hostas under a tree. I paused to photograph them, and was pretty excited as some even seemed to buzz me as they flitted to and from the flowers.

Two colleagues, a man and woman, were passing by. I told them what I thought I was photographing, and they said that the hummingbirds were pretty cool, too. Except, the man noted, “They’re pretty small. Do you think they’re juveniles?”

Another view--what kind of big butterfly is it?

Another view–what kind of big butterfly is it?

Maybe he was trying to be polite. They were not juveniles at all, they are some kind of very large butterfly or moth—probably, since it was daylight, butterflies, but I cannot be sure.

Anybody out there recognize these big brutes?

It was nice to see those hummingbirds, which were cool even if they really were insects. And may these be a sign of better things to come. Like cool weather—but most of all, like rain.

In flight ...

In flight …

Another butterfly in motion.

Another butterfly in motion.

One more view

One more view

An hour after I published this, my sister answered the query on Facebook: Brigid Rocca Hummingbird moths (really they’re called that). Cool and weird at the same time. (Me again–yup. And now I don’t feel too bad at thinking they were hummingbirds!)

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “An Odd Day When Rain Makes Bugs Like Birds

  1. Looks like a White-lined Sphinx Moth from the photos. We see these regularly on our hosta.

    • CRGardenJoe

      Brigid though the hummingbird moth–but I think you’re right. They are in the same moth family, however, and both have rapid flying patterns that make them look a bit like hummingbirds.

      • I was once stalked and assaulted by these little fellas. The Hawaiian shirt with the ginormous tiger-lilies drew them like a beacon. Funny little guys. On the other hand – these past two nights have caught the hummers off guard. My neighbors had to take a couple in overnight – found them attached to the feeders unable to move.

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