It is party time in the Monarda patch! While milkweed is the clear champion of insect diversity, monarda or bee balm attracts a tremendous number of airborne pollinators. A particular favorite is the sphinx moth, frequently called the hummingbird moth. They are tricky to capture. They are not as skittish as butterflies, but they have a habit of moving very quickly from flower to flower such that it is hard to keep up with them. I had good success with a telephoto. My macro lens, the Micro-Nikkor 60mm AF showed its age, however. The hummingbird moth’s timing defeated the slower pin-drive autofocus; the moment focus resolved was the precise moment the moth was ready to move on to the next flower. Manual focus was not any quicker. It’s one of the few times I wished for the more expensive AF-S version of this lens. But got over it. The sphinx moth image was taken with the Nikon 70-300mm AF-S ED VR; all the other images were taken with the Micro-Nikkor 60mm.
The other insects were more obliging. Just about every flower had its own bumblebee working the nectar. Such a cuddly, fuzzy coat these ladies wear.
Several skippers were working here as well, though they spent more time at the adjacent purple coneflower patch. Skippers are the ugly ducklings of the butterfly world. They are a study in brown; they hold their wings in a peculiar right-angle formation at rest. Meanwhile the showy tiger swallowtail, the featured photo for this post, gets all the attention as it careens maniacally from species to species and flower station to station.
Finally a very patient hoverfly sits at the end of a monarda tube. I’m not sure how he expects to get anything from it. His tongue is far too short. Perhaps he’s waiting for it to fill to the top. He has a lot of confidence in his faux bee camouflage t0 keep him safe, I suppose!