So yesterday evening the PP and I were heading out to a reading at a bar in town, and while I was waiting for him to come out of the house, I was standing there looking at my azaleas.
My azaleas, as will come as no surprise to you, look like this:
So I'm standing there, looking at them and at the bumblebees who are doing their Flight-Of-The thing around the blossoms, and then I see something that initially is playing along with the "I'm a Bumblebee" routine, but the more I look, the more I see that it is not. It almost looks like a hummingbird, but smaller--very different body shape from the bees. But with a distinctly striped tail. And hummingbirds don't have antennae. And then, when it flew away, it buzzed close to my head, and I could tell that its buzz had a very different pitch from that of the bumblebees.
I've been wondering since then, what in the world this could be.
Turns out that a call to my mother was all I needed. I had barely launched into my description of the miraculous creature I had seen in my garden, when she said, "Oh. That's a hummingbird moth."
Specifically, it was a Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth. Here is what it looks like when its wings are not humming:
That photo comes from this page, where you can also see a photographic narrative of its life cycle. Here is an even cooler photo narrative of the emergence of a White-Lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moth.