I contributed knowledge to the world of biodiversity science and I liked it. While recently in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, I photographed a fascinating creature that was positively identified and verified, and added to current sighting data for scientists and nature enthusiasts of Lepidoptera. For the rest of us, that is the large order of insects known as butterflies and moths. Butterflies and Moths of North America is an ambitious effort to collect, store, and share species information and occurrence data. Information about the BAMONA project is here.
While visiting the North Rim in the Grand Canyon National Park, we stopped our minivan in a shoulder along the Grand Canyon Highway. This made it possible to step out and photograph some superb pink-colored wildflowers I had never before seen. The plant is not only beautiful, but also has a wonderfully poetic sounding name: Slender Tube Skyrocket | Ipomopsis Tenuituba. These were growing on both sides of the road, in meadows and gently sloping hills surrounded by quaking aspen and in the midst of low growing grasses.
As if enjoying these botanical specimens were not enough, along came a creature to enchant me even further. I may describe it as a hummingbird-butterfly, though it turns out that’s not what it was. It had wings that flapped invariably fast like those on a hummingbird. It also had a fat body slightly longer than 4 inches, a set of antennae, and spotted wings like those on a butterfly. It came near me to feed on one of the flowers on a plant I was photographing. When the moment came to snap my shutter, I held my breath and hoped some part of the insect was in focus. It was such a fast mover. It turns out what I saw was a White-lined Sphinx moth | Hyles lineata.
The butterfly project required that I insert a watermark on my photograph so it could be included in its observer image gallery. Here is a closer look at my resulting image containing the wildflower in bloom and the moth.