Snowberry Clearwing

July 2, 2014

Every year, as the warmish days of late-spring become the hot days of summer, I begin watching for interesting insects to photograph on the colorful flowers around the farm and elsewhere. I’m always on the look-out for the snowberry clearwing and other sphinx moths because they are so fascinating as they imitate other creatures, such as bumblebees and hummingbirds. Although smallish, as compared to other sphinx moths, I’ve always found the snowberry clearwing, the great bumblebee imitator, to be my favorite.

When I photographed the featured image many years ago, I almost overlooked the snowberry as it foraged with dozens of bumblebees in one of Joyce’s flower gardens. I was using my first digital SLR, a Nikon D-50 with a 55 – 200 mm kit lens, when I made the shot (200 mm; 1/320 sec; f/5.6; ISO 200) against the cedar background of our house.

I made the second snowberry clearwing image last summer at Shaw Nature Reserve while hunting sphinx moths with my Canon Mark IV and a lightweight, Canon 300/4 prime lens. You can learn more about how I photograph butterflies and moths with the 300 mm lens in this month’s Missouri Conservationist. If you don’t receive the magazine, which is free to all Missourians, you can read the article here.

DJB_SNR_2013_0847Snowberry Clearwing; 300 mm; 1/800; f/4; ISO 400

The final image is of a much larger sphinx moth, the white-lined sphinx, which I also photographed at Shaw Nature Reserve last year. The white-lined is easily mistaken for a hummingbird as you watch it forage from flower to flower, never stopping for a moment. Some of you might remember that I featured this impressive critter in an edition of Nature Frames last summer.

DJB_SNR_2013_1017White-lined Sphinx; 700 mm; 1/1000; f/5.6; ISO 400

Photogs will be quick to notice that I made the white-lined sphinx image with my 500 mm lens instead of the 300 mm “insect lens” I discussed earlier. You just never know!

Thanks for looking,


Email me at:  NatureFrames@Rocketmail.Com


12 comments on “Snowberry Clearwing”

  1. Hi Danny, Your posting today brought back some nice memories. Several years ago, I was walking at the Morton Arboretum in the Chicago area and came across two “hummingbirds”. I excitedly took pictures with my inexpensive point and shoot camera.
    Later, I sent them to a friend who identified my hummingbird impostors as Sphinx Moths. They appear to be closely related to your Snowberry Clearwing. Thanks for the article.

    Terry Lee

  2. Nothing is too small to wonder at. Beautifully caught!

  3. Beautiful specimens of nature. The coloring of the White- lined Sphinx, is incredible. The Snowberry Clearwing would imitate me as well. Thank’s for sharing.


  4. Very nice, Danny! I remember going with you last year to Shaw when you were trying to capture these little fellas with your lens.

  5. […] appearance than the actual hummingbird clearwing. The snowberry clearwing (see previous post here) is the one that mimics a bumblebee. When I first saw a snowberry I was definitely fooled for a few […]

  6. I saw a sphinx moth only once before, flying around a butterfly bush.
    I thought it was a rather strange looking hummingbird. I did not realize it was a moth!

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