Recently, I was looking out my window and saw what I believed to be a hummingbird. I took my phone outside to grab a picture of it. The more I looked at this “bird”, zooming in on it from a number of angles and scrutinizing it, the more baffled I became. The tail resembled a shrimp’s tail. And what were those things on its head? Antennae? It flew like a hummingbird, rotating its wings in a rapid-fire figure-eight motion. But it was just wrong looking.
After a quick search online, I discovered that this enigmatic beast was a hummingbird moth hemaris thysbe, shortened to H. thysbe by those in the know. It is an imposter species that looks similar to and inhabits the same biological niche as common garden hummingbirds, like the ruby-throated hummingbird. It was a fake, a fugazi, a counterfeit, an imposter.
I have witnessed a fair share of imposters in life. Not criminal imposters or con artists, but the everyday fakery of misrepresentation, where charm and a pat on the back substitute for ability and competence. A resumé that overstates qualifications, misrepresents ability or inflates accomplishments, this is the currency of the professional imposter. As far as I can tell, this is encouraged. Better to lie and get hired than to be a sucker and tell the truth. There is no reward for honest humility.
The value of honesty is on my mind a lot these days, as we witness the downfall of our country due to a President who clearly values pugilistic demagoguery over forthright truth. Perhaps the H. thysbe should replace the bald eagle as the symbol for our country in this new era of decline.