06sep ~ Slurpee

The Ironweed flower it isn’t colored quite like any slurpee on the Seven-Eleven website but in 2019 they released a Nerds Candy-Flavored Slurpee that is supposed to be a mix of grape and strawberry.  It was for only a limited time (darn… that opportunity has expired and now it is lost to all of us.)  Anyway it was nowhere near as brilliant is the colors seen here.

This is one of those images (most of them seem to be) that I have to give up something—either context or detail—without a second image, so here are two images again, the first showing a moth that has a body one-inch long (you can calculate the enlargement on your screen if you are curious.) The second image is enlarged only 3 times over the first, but it reveals so much more.

 Ironweed is now passing its peak, and the moth is the Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe).  He/she is gathering nectar with a proboscis, that is unbelievably long and flexible. And it rolls up into a coil like some sort of tiny mainspring, yet it is controllable to its tip.  It reminds me of a cat’s tail that can twitch just its last few caudal vertebrae without moving any of the rest.

For some reason this image want to stretch vertically 😕 a click on the image will correct the problem.

With only 3X greater magnification, you can see detail on the antenna, and looking at the blur on the proboscis, I see it as moving the tip up and down, quickly, probing first one nectar well, and then the next.  The legs are steady and come into contact with the flower. That is a really shaggy coat of bristles, (hair is a mammalian thing) and they use their tail bristles aerodynamically like the spread tail-feathers of a hummingbird.  With those colors, one might expect that the moth is something of a Bumble Bee mimic.

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