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Second Brood of Snowberry Clearwing Moths In Flight

8-22-18 snowberry clearwing moth_U1A6071

Clearwing moths are strong and fast fliers with a rapid wingbeat, like the other members of the Sphingidae family. Most species in the group are active at dusk and feed much like hummingbirds, hovering in front of a flower and sipping nectar through their extended proboscis.  In most species, the larval stage is called a “hornworm” because the caterpillar’s posterior end has a horn-like appendage protruding upward.

Like its close relative, the Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe), the Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) is a day-flying moth, has transparent wings and is a mimic.  While they both hover at flowers, the Hummingbird Clearwing is said to mimic a hummingbird, while the Snowberry Clearwing is considered a bumblebee mimic.  To distinguish these two clearwings, if it has black legs and a black band that crosses the eye and travels down the side of the thorax, it’s a Snowberry Clearwing.

In addition to thistle, adult Snowberry Clearwings feed on honeysuckles, snowberry, hawkweed, lilacs and Canada violets. (Thanks to Barbara and Knox Johnson for photo op.)

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8 responses

  1. Victoria Davis

    Is the Sphinx moth another name for the Hummingbird Clearwing?

    August 22, 2018 at 7:53 am

    • Both Hummingbird and Snowberry Clearwings are types of Sphinx moths (there are many more species of sphinx/hawk moths!).

      August 22, 2018 at 8:31 am

  2. Jo-Ann

    I have them at my house and they are beautiful

    August 22, 2018 at 8:01 am

  3. Alice Pratt

    Only seen one this summer, my photos are not a side view so I can’t tell…it’s always exciting to see them…I do have photos of them just about disappearing into bubblegum pink petunias

    August 22, 2018 at 8:51 am

  4. Diane

    They feed on several plants not mentioned in your post.

    August 22, 2018 at 9:17 am

  5. Bill on the hill

    Beautiful shot Mary! I failed miserably earlier this summer shooting this insect with my new full frame camera with the 24-105 mm lens on it. I went back in to do a comparison with yours & realized I deleted it & the raws! lol…
    The flowering thistle plant & the moth, there is nothing not to like here…
    Bill Farr…

    August 22, 2018 at 12:32 pm

  6. You’re very kind, Bill. I should have had a faster shutter speed so I could get unblurred wings!

    August 22, 2018 at 1:02 pm

  7. I agree with Bill, this s a stunning shot and so hard to get right. Well done!

    August 30, 2018 at 9:51 am

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