Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

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Photo by Brenda Dziedzic

Hemaris thysbe (hem-ah-ris • thiz-bee)

Family:Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths) (SFEN-jah-dee)

Flight period: March–October

Wingspan:1-1/2 to 2-3/16 inches


Photo by Hillstar Editions L.C.


Dorsal/upperside.Photo by Brenda Dziedzic

The dorsal/upperside of the thorax is olive or golden olive and the abdomen is reddish-brown. The forewing cell is either covered or has a bisecting line. Both the forewing and the hindwing have unscaled areas with reddish- brown borders.

Ventral/underside.Photo by Brenda Dziedzic

The ventral/underside is similar to the dorsal side, except the thorax is pale yellow. The legs are yellowish or pale-colored.

Host / Larval Food plants

Blueberry — Vaccinium spp.

Cranberry — Vaccinium spp.

Viburnum — Viburnum spp. (used most frequently)

There have been reports that they also use Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) and Snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.); however, the Hummingbird Clearwing may have been confused with the Snowberry Clearwing.

Old records show that they use Cherry (Prunus spp.) and Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), but this needs further investigation.

Arrowwood Viburnum — Viburnum dentatum. Photo by Brenda Dziedzic

The Life Cycle

Photo by Brenda Dziedzic

Hummingbird Clearwings have several broods each year. The egg is light green and slightly wider than 1/32 inch. They are laid on the top or bottom of the host plant leaf, both singly and in pairs. It takes 4 to 6 days for the egg to hatch.


Photo by Brenda Dziedzic

When it hatches, the caterpillar is about 5/32 inch long.

 Photos by Brenda Dziedzic

The caterpillar stage lasts for 10 to 14 days. In the last instar, the caterpillar is about 1-15/16 inches long.


Photo by Brenda Dziedzic

Before making the pupa, the caterpillar’s back turns purplish.

Photos by Brenda Dziedzic

It makes a cocoon of silk and debris on the ground, which it pupates in. The pupa stage lasts for 14 to 20 days, except for the last brood, which overwinters.


Photos by Brenda Dziedzic

This shows the expansion of the wings after the moth ecloses from the pupa. 


Photo by Brenda Dziedzic

Adult Food

Adult Hummingbird Clearwings are diurnal and can be seen nectaring during the day. Some of the flowers they nectar on include Blackberry Blossoms, Blazing Star, Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Buttonbush, Dog- bane, Dogwood Blossoms, English Bluebell, Joe-Pye Weed, Lantana, Lilac, Mexican Sunflower, Milkweed, Million Bells, Mint, Monarda, Petunias, Phlox, Purple Coneflower, Thistle and Zinnia.

More from Raising Butterflies in the Garden:

Cover courtesy of Firefly Books

This excerpt is taken from Raising Butterflies in the Garden by butterfly expert Brenda Dziedzic, with the permission of Firefly Books Ltd.

Mother Earth Gardener
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