I was taking pictures of wasps on the mountain mint again today and happened to see this little critter on the black-eyed Susans next to me. At first I thought it was some odd wasp but it didn’t really look right for that. The next thing I thought was that it looked more like a sphinx moth than anything but it was too small (about 1.5 cm long) and not really like any sphinx moth I’ve ever seen.
Armed with that impression I did some searching and discovered a fairly large family of moths called Sesiidae or clearwing moths (about 1370 species in 151 genera). If I’m right (and I’m waiting on confirmation by an expert), this is a dogwood borer (Synanthedon scitula). If not it’s something very like that. Their larvae bore into the bark of many ornamental, fruit, and nut trees. They do significant damage to dogwoods but are also a significant problem in apple orchards.
Anyway, I’d never seen one before so, despite their generally unwelcome nature, I was a bit excited to get a few pretty good pictures of one.