Home / Clearwing Moths (Sesiidae) / Hornet Moth (Sesia apiformis)

Hornet Moth (Sesia apiformis)

Hornet moth, alternately called the hornet clearwing moth belonging to the clearwing moth family, is indigenous to the Middle East and Europe but has also been spotted in North America. They adapt the Batesian mimicry style, replicating the hornet’s appearance to look unappealing to their predators.

Hornet Moth


Scientific Classification

  • Family: Sesiidae
  • Genus: Sesia
  • Scientific Name: Sesia apiformis

Description and Identification


The larval stage is long, lasting, between two and three years. They are primarily found in the host tree’s roots. Before entering the pupal phase, the larva bores up to 10 cm inside the trunk, covering the entrance with a thin bark to hide the tunnel. After getting in, it weaves a cocoon with the silk and the excavated material of the trees.

Hornet Moth Caterpillar



The females appear larger than the males. Before emerging into an adult, both sexes’ pupa goes up to the tunnel’s entrance point.

Hornet Moth Pupa


Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Like the pupa, the females of the adult moths also appear larger than their male counterparts. Both sexes possess yellow and black stripes on their abdomens but vary in numbers, two in females and three in males.

Moreover, the females do not readily fly after emergence, but the males do, in search of their mate.

Color and Appearance

When opened, their forewings and hindwings appear clear and transparent without any scales. When closed, the pattern remains the same.

Average Wingspan: 3.4 – 4.2 cm

Flight Pattern: Consistent

Season: Not recorded

Sesia apiformis



The eggs are brown and oval-shaped, with a diameter between 0.43 and 0.85 mm. They are mostly laid near the vegetation or the base of the isolated tree. The female hornet moth drifts apart, not returning to care for the eggs and larva.

Hornet Moth Eggs


Quick Facts

DistributionNative: Europe, Middle East Invasive: Canada and America
HabitatGolf courses, marshy regions, parks, fens, pits, pond edges
PredatorsBirds like great tit, and magpie
Lifespan of AdultsNot recorded
Host PlantsPoplar species like aspen, and black poplar
Adult DietNectar

Did You Know

  • The hornet moth’s species name had several synonyms by which it was referred to in different times in the past. Some of them include Sphinx apiformis, and Sphinx tenebrioniformis.
  • There are several species, similar to the hornet moth, the lunar hornet moth being one of them. However, the latter is smaller and also has a black head alongside a yellow shoulder as its distinguishing features.
Hornet Moth Picture


Hornet Moth Image




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