Clearwing Moths (Sesiidae)

Clearwing moths are a family of moths known for their Batesian mimicry, i.e., they mimic a more threatening species like wasps. There are over 1500 species classified under this family.

List of Moths in this Family

  • Raspberry clearwing moth (Pennisetia hylaeiformis)
  • Raspberry crown borer moth (Pennisetia marginata)
  • Hornet moth (Sesia apiformis)
  • Lunar hornet moth (Sesia bembeciformis)
  • American hornet moth (Sesia tibiale)
  • Oriental blue clearwing moth (Heterosphecia tawonoides)
  • Squash vine borer moth (Melittia cucurbitae)
  • Glorious squash vine borer moth (Melittia gloriosa)
  • African vine borer moth (Melittia oedipus)
  • Grape root borer moth (Vitacea polistiformis)
  • Lesser grape root borer moth (Vitacea scepsiformis)
  • Dusky clearwing moth (Paranthrene tabaniformis)
  • Doll’s clearwing moth (Paranthrene dollii)
  • Western poplar clearwing moth (Paranthrene robiniae)
  • Red oak clearwing borer moth (Paranthrene simulans)
  • Virginia creeper clearwing moth (Albuna fraxini)
  • Fireweed clearwing moth (Albuna pyramidalis)
  • Maple callus borer moth (Synanthedon acerni)
  • Orange-tailed clearwing moth (Synanthedon andrenaeformis)
  • Strawberry crown moth (Synanthedon bibionipennis)
  • Dale’s oak clearwing moth (Synanthedon conopiformis)
  • Large red-belted clearwing moth (Synanthedon culiciformis)
  • Peachtree borer moth (Synanthedon exitiosa)
  • Sallow clearwing moth (Synanthedon flaviventris)
  • Red-tipped clearwing moth (Synanthedon formicaeformis)
  • Red-belted clearwing moth (Synanthedon myopaeformis)
  • Lesser peachtree borer moth (Synanthedon pictipes)
  • Pitch mass borer moth (Synanthedon pini)
  • Horsenettle borer moth (Synanthedon rileyana)
  • Florida oakgill moth (Synanthedon sapygaeformis)
  • Dogwood borer moth (Synanthedon scitula)
  • Welsh clearwing moth (Synanthedon scoliaeformis)
  • Sequoia pitch moth (Synanthedon sequoiae)
  • White-barred clearwing moth (Synanthedon spheciformis)
  • Currant clearwing moth (Synanthedon tipuliformis)
  • Yellow-legged clearwing moth (Synanthedon vespiformis)
  • Clearwing persimmon borer moth (Ichneumenoptera chrysophanes)
  • Ash borer moth (Podosesia syringae)
  • Persimmon borer moth (Sannina uroceriformis)
  • Liatris borer moth (Papaipema beeriana)
  • Arizona clearwing moth (Carmenta auritincta)
  • Eupatorium borer moth (Carmenta bassiformis)
  • Aster borer moth (Papaipema impecuniosa)
  • Argentine root borer moth (Carmenta haematica)
  • Coronopus borer moth (Carmenta mimuli)
  • Mistletoe borer moth (Carmenta phoradendri)
  • Boneset borer moth (Carmenta pyralidiformis)
  • Mistletoe stem borer moth (Carmenta tecta)
  • Texana clearwing moth (Carmenta texana)
  • Cocoa fruit borer moth (Conopomorpha cramerella)
  • Six-belted clearwing moth (Bembecia ichneumoniformis)
  • Glearwing moth (Bembecia scopigera)
  • Fiery clearwing moth (Pyropteron chrysidiforme)
  • Dock clearwing moth (Pyropteron doryliformis)
  • Thrift clearwing moth (Pyropteron muscaeforme)
  • Hungarian clearwing moth (Chamaesphecia hungarica)

Description and Identification


They are yellow or cream-colored, with a brown head capsule. Larval development takes 1-4 years.


After the larva reaches their final stage, they excavate a chamber inside their host plant where they undergo pupation. The moths stay in the pupal stage for 10-20 days.

Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present. The males have more transparent portions on the wing than the females.

Color and Appearance: When the wings are opened, they are entirely transparent. They are narrow and elongated even when closed.

Average wingspan: 0.8-4.8 cm

Flight pattern: Erratic

Season: Late spring to mid-summer


The eggs are pale and pink, laid singly on a host plant.

Quick Facts

Distribution Worldwide
Habitat Forests
Lifespan of Adults 1 week
Predators Birds like magpies and great tits
Host Plants Fruit trees or crops
Adult Diet Does not feed

Did You Know

  • French lepidopterist Jean Baptiste Alphonse Déchauffour de Boisduval first described this family of moths in 1828.