Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)
Hummingbird Clearwing resting on white lilacs
Credit: Terry Thormin
This moth is often mistaken for a large bumblebee or
even a small hummingbird when it hovers in front of a
flower to sip the nectar.
The Hummingbird Clearwing is a member of the family Sphingidae,
the sphinx moths. It can be identified partly by the fact that
it is active during the day where most other members of the
family are nocturnal or active at night. It is also one of
the smaller members of the family with a wing span of 4 to
5.5 cm. The wings are clear in the centre and have a broad
This species is found throughout the province of Alberta.
It is found throughout Eastern North America west as far
as the Great Plains.
TIME OF YEAR
The adults fly from mid-May through July. Larvae first
appear in early June and last until late August.
HABITAT AND HABITS
This is a moth of open weedy fields and forest edges. It
feeds on flowers such as purple vetch, dandelion and
honeysuckle and will occasionally come to backyards if
the appropriate flowers are present. It has the ability
to hover in front of flowers while it feeds, just like
hummingbirds. The larvae feed on the leaves of hawthorns,
honeysuckle, cherry and snowberry. It overwinters as a
pupa in a cocoon in leaf litter. Most sphinx moths have
bare pupae (no cocoon) in the soil.
The Snowberry Clearwing, Hemaris diffinis, is very
similar, but is smaller and has a narrower brown border
to the wings.
Most people who see this moth for the first time have a
problem trying to figure out just what it is. As stated
earlier, it can be confused for a small hummingbird or a
large bumblebee. Once people find out it is a moth they
generally become quite fascinated by it and remember it!
The larvae are seldom serious pests.
For more information on the Hummingbird Clearwing you can
visit the University of Alberta’s entomology collection species page.