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Spring Is Buzzing in the Gorge!

Spring Is Buzzing in the Gorge!
A hummingbird clearwing moth pollinates a flower. (photo: Friends archive)
April 12, 2023

By Friends staff

Common camas (Camassia quamash) is a beautiful bluish-purple flower that grows in the central and eastern Columbia Gorge on open slopes and grassy meadows that are seasonally moist.

Camas species are culturally significant to Indigenous people across western North America, and camas meadows have been cultivated for thousands of years for food and trade. Camas plants were prolific in the times before European contact, but they have diminished significantly due to development and agriculture. The stewardship and protection of camas continue to be important to tribal peoples today.

Common camas is visited by many different types of pollinators, including native bees, beetles, flies, butterflies, and moths. It’s wonderful to sit quietly and watch pollinators visit camas and other flowers.

Any time between sunrise and sundown, a patient observer may see a wide range of pollinator species and behaviors. But if you’re watching quietly at dusk, an unusual evening visitor may surprise you: the Hemaris thysbe, commonly called the hummingbird clearwing moth.

The hummingbird clearwing moth, with a 4” to 5” wingspan, has a distinctive appearance. This unusual pollinator sports a stout, fur-covered body, with clear wings that resemble finely paned windows framed in reddish fur. With their fluttering wings and hovering movement, their furry bodies seem to mimic hummingbirds.