August 11, 2009
Dear bugman; I have been trying to get a photo of this moth for 4 days . I think it may be a Hummingbird moth (Hemaris thysbe). Today I decided to catch and cool it in the freezer for 3 minutes. When I took him out he wasn’t moving. I thought I killed him. I was dreading the thought of (UNNECESSARY CARNAGE) or worse yet, involuntary bugslauter. I put him (or her) in the sun hoping he might come around. I took over 30 photos, when he started to flutter, and dropped to the ground. I picked him up and put him back on the flower. he didn’t move for another 10 minutes. Then he just flew strait up, about ten feet and turned, and flew off.
I was browsing through the local library on Saturday, when I came across a book titled KAUFMAN Field Guide to Insects of North America. I’ve owned the Kaufman Birds of North America for many years now, and thought, if this book is half as good as the bird book it will be great. When I picked it up I saw the author was Eric Eaton. I started reading, and almost forgot to stop for lunch. The only problem now is they are going to want it back. Keep up the good work, and write that book!
We do not as yet have a tagged category for Involuntary BugSlaughter, but that would not be quite as serious a matter as our current Unnecessary Carnage tag. We do not consider accidental deaths to be cause for tagging a letter as Unnecessary Carnage. A recent example was the chilling to death of a Gold and Brown Rove Beetle. Since your Hummingbird Clearwing, Hemaris thysbe, survived, this is all a moot point. Your intention in chilling this specimen was to take photos and then to release the moth, as opposed to recent postings where the intention was to dispatch of a perceived threat. We will state again that it has never been our intention to vilify readers who out of fear kill a benign creature that was perceived as a threat, but to educate our readership in the event of future encounters with frightening but harmless creatures.
With regards to the KAUFMAN Field Guide to Insects of North America, it sounds like after taking the library copy for a test drive, you may need to buy your own copy. We are quite certain Eric Eaton would appreciate that. Eric is highly entertaining in print and we are quite thankful that he contributes so much to What’s That Bug? when we need correction or clarification in our identifications.
You may read more about the Hummingbird Clearwing on Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website.