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Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe)

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth
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Hummingbird clearwing moth of the hawkmoth family has an extensive range, spreading to the whole of North America. It comes in a wide range of colors, closely similar to the bumblebee and hummingbird in appearance and behavior.

Scientific Classification


  • Family: Sphingidae
  • Genus: Hemaris
  • Scientific Name: Hemaris thysbe

Description and Identification 

Caterpillar

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth Larvae
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The larvae have a yellowish-green color with dark green, dark brown, or reddish-brown lines running through their body. A white horn is seen to protrude from the posterior end. Its primary food source includes dogbane, snowberry, honeysuckle, cherry, and several fruit tree varieties. 

Pupa

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth Pupa
butterfliesandmoths.org

The pupae are brown-colored, having a hard shell, from which the adults emerge in late spring between May and June.

Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Though they mostly have thread-like antennae, the males of this species could possess bipectinate or comb-like ones.

Color and Appearance

After maturing into adults, their wings are initially reddish or completely black. However, after they take their first flight, most of the scales falls off, making the wings appear transparent with a reddish or brown border when opened. When closed, the pattern remains the same.

Clearwing Sphinx Moth
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Overall, they have an olive green or burgundy back with yellow or white patches on the undersides. The antennae look thick near the base and curved towards the end.

Average Wingspan: 4 – 5.5 cm

Flight Pattern: Consistent

Season: North: April – August; South: March – June; August – September

Eggs

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth Eggs
butterfliesandmoths.org

The eggs are a little flattened or rounded, with a translucent green coloration, laid on the leaves’ undersides.

Quick Facts

Other NamesClearwing sphinx moth, hummingbird sphinx moth
DistributionMajor parts of North America from Alaska up to Oregon (West) and Newfoundland to Florida (east)
HabitatFlower gardens, forest edges, meadows
PredatorsBeetles, turtles, squirrel, birds, spiders
Lifespan of AdultsNot recorded
Host PlantsDogbane, honeysuckle, hawthorn, cherry, snowberry, European cranberry bush, and plum
Adult DietNectar of cranberry, snowberry, blueberry, Japanese honeysuckle, thistle, phlox

Did You Know

  • Danish zoologist Johan Christian Fabricius described it for the first time in 1775.
  • The slender clearwing and snowberry clearwing have stripes on their thorax and leg’s undersides absent in this species. This is one of the main distinguishing factors between this and the other species.
  • Its species name Thisbe is given about Ovid’s Thisbe with the latter’s blood-stained scarf alluding to the flower’s reddish-brown color.
  • Though a flower pollinator, it isn’t a pest, not causing severe harm.
  • It prefers purple and pink flowers, moving at a fast pace, often mimicking a hummingbird.
Hummingbird Sphinx Moth
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Hummingbird Clearwing Moth Image
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Hemaris thysbe
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