Odd-looking insects capture Dinwiddie locals’ attention

By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Twitter: @DinwiddieMonitr
Posted: August 16, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.

Despite scary appearance, ‘bee moth’ plays important role in environment 

DINWIDDIE – There are some strange goings-on in Dinwiddie County, and maybe in the county or city you call home as well. There have been recent sightings of odd-looking insects with very long legs and bodies, and two large antennas or horns protruding from their heads. These strange antennas are leading to speculation by mere humans that they may be used as ray guns, or have telepathic powers. Wow, exactly what is this strange-looking horned invader in Dinwiddie that is scurrying from flower-to-flower?

Kim and Gene Walker of Sutherland have spotted these weird alien, zombie, or extra-terrestrial bees since early-Spring of this year on several different occasions. It seemed for a while that the bees had returned to their mother-ship and left the planet. Guess what? They’re back.

Doris McClean, another Sutherland resident, confirmed a new sighting last Sunday morning. Hearing about the sighting, Kim and Gene Walker thoroughly searched their property, and sure enough, the alien bee had indeed returned. This time; however, the Walkers were able to document the sightings or landings of two of the strange bees with their cameras.

In an effort to solve this mystery, it was decided to contact either the Extra-Terrestrial Hotline or the Dinwiddie Extension Office. Dinwiddie County’s Extension Agent Michael Parrish, was contacted first. He asked for a copy of the photos, and within an hour, he had solved the mystery of the alien bees.

“This is not a bee at all,” Parrish detailed. “While both of these photos resemble bees, they are actually photos of moths. They are commonly referred to as hummingbird moths or bee moths. These hummingbird moths collect nectar, and pollinate flowers, just like bees, which is critical and important for the environment. Though they might look a little scary or intimidating, they are very important pollinators, and unlike bees, they don’t even have stingers.”

“Hummingbird moths lay eggs just like butterflies and moths,” Parrish continued. “Their larvae eat honeysuckle and other vines, and they pupate just like other moths and butterflies. Hummingbird moths are an annual insect, so they only live one season. Their entire life cycle is only about two months. Hummingbird moths are most often spotted in the spring. They have bred, pupated, and laid eggs, and it is very rare to see them this late in the season. If you see one in the next couple of weeks, you are indeed lucky. Take the time to enjoy watching one of the more interesting, curious, and fascinating oddities of nature.”

The Dinwiddie County Extension Office is affiliated with Virginia Tech, and is a valuable resource for residents of the county. Questions on plants, fauna, birds, insects, wildlife, crops, and much more can be answered by their knowledgeable extension agents. They can be reached by telephone at (804) 469-4514, or on-line at www.dinwiddie.ext.vt.edu.

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