Hummingbird Moths on Notes from Nature #mothweek

Its Moth Week! And how better to celebrate than helping us to transcribe critical information about these amazing organisms. Moths are one of the most diverse branch of the tree of life, and not only because of their colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes. It is estimated that there are between 150,000 to 500,00 species of moths — in comparison, there are only ~65,000 species of all vertebrates! And this new expedition features a particularly awesome species, Hyles lineata.


Is that a hummingbird hovering over those flowers? Oh wait, it’s a moth with a ten-inch proboscis! Hyles lineata is a moth from the Sphingidae family. This moth, and other related species, are called hummingbird moths because their flight and feeding behaviors resemble the mannerisms of hummingbirds. Hyles lineata uses its long tongue (proboscis) to feed on the nectar from a variety of flowers. Its common name, the white-lined sphinx, describes its physical appearance, with white lines across the wings and thorax. The forewing of the moth is dark brown, while the hindwing has a broad band of pink. This moth can be found across the entire continental United States, and its range extends into Canada, Mexico, and even some of the islands in the Caribbean.

In this project, you will be transcribing the numerous descriptive labels that are pinned to each hummingbird moth specimen from the Florida Museum of Natural History’s McGuire Center. One of the numerous benefits of digitizing these records is that the transcribed label data can be added to a database and made accessible to researchers that can’t afford to travel and visit the McGuire Center’s collections on a regular basis. Through this interface, you will be looking at two images of the moth, taken from the dorsal and ventral sides of the insect. Please be sure to transcribe the information from both images.

This project is part of a collaborative network of museums seeking to digitize approximately 2 million North American butterfly and moth specimens. Butterflies and moths are one of the most charismatic groups of insects, yet there is still much that we don’t know about them. Your role in transcribing the specimen data is very valuable, and provides a significant contribution to research and conservation of butterflies and moths. Thank you for your help!


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