hummingbird clearwing

(Hemaris thysbe)

Hodges #


hummingbird clearwing
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed




Two broods: May to September


Meadows, gardens, woodland openings.


Wingspan: 19 16 to 23 16

Total Length: 1 to 13 16

    Photo by Bill Reynolds


This is a common, medium to large, sphinx moth. In poor light or at a distance it is easily mistaken for a hummingbird, due to similarities in both appearance and behavior. It has a wingspan of 19 16 to 23 16.

When the adult first emerges from the cocoon the wings are completely covered with dark wine-red scales. The scales begin to drop off with the first flight, eventually leaving the wings clear except on the margins and along the veins. The forewing is long and narrow with a smooth, slightly convex outer margin. The forewing cell is boldly outlined and is either mostly covered with dark scales or is bisected by a thin, dark line that looks like, but is not, a vein.

The appendage (tegula) covering the forewing base is olive green. The thorax is unbanded, olive green above, and yellow below.

The abdomen is banded with five colors. Abdominal segments 1 and 2 are olive green; segments 3 through 5 are tan with a few olive-green hairs; segments 6 and 7 are dark wine-red; segments 8 and 9 are olive green, often with a small to large, dark wine red patch in the middle; and segment 10 is black. Tufts of long hairs flare outward from the tenth abdominal segment and look like feathers.

The head is olive green. The antennae are black, thickened, and club-like. The proboscis is long and is coiled under the head when not in use. The legs are yellowish or pale colored.

The caterpillar is lime green and up to 2 long. The head, thorax, and abdominal segments 1 through 7 and 10 are moderately covered with prominent, minute, white bumps. Abdominal segments 8 and 9 have much fewer, scattered, less prominent bumps. The leading edge of the thorax has a yellow, warty collar. A long, curved, often bluish horn extends from the eighth abdominal segment. A yellow subdorsal stripe extends from the first thoracic segment to the horn. The spiracles are white with a red center and an orange base. The leg-like structures (prolegs) on the abdomen are yellow at the base, black in the middle, and green at the end with an brownish-red band. Mature caterpillars can be found from May onward.



Larval Food

Mostly viburnum (Viburnum spp.), but also honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), snowberry (Symphoricarpos), hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), and cherry (Prunus spp.).

Adult Food

Flower nectar.

Life Cycle

Females attract males by releasing pheromones. After mating, she lays spherical green eggs on the underside of host leaves. The eggs hatch in about one week and the caterpillars begin feeding on leaves and fruit of the host plant. They molt five times in four weeks before pupating. The first generation pupates in a cocoon among the leaf litter on the ground. Adults emerge two to four weeks later. The second generation caterpillar burrows into the soil and overwinters as a pupa and emerges in as an adult in May or June.


Adults fly during the day.

Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 21, 24, 29, 75.





Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)











No Rank:



No Rank:




Bombycoidea (hawk-moths)



Sphingidae (hawk moths, sphinx moths, and hornworms)










common clear-wing

hummingbird clearwing

hummingbird clearwing moth

hummingbird moth

sphinx colibri









anal plate

In snakes: the large scale in front of and covering the anus. In turtles: one of the posterior plates of the lower shell (plastron). In Lepidoptera: the often hardened shield on the dorsal surface of the last (10th) segment of the abdomen.



A fleshy structure on the abdomen of some insect larvae that functions as a leg, but lacks the five segments of a true insect leg.


prothoracic shield

The hardened plate on the dorsal surface of the first segment of the thorax.



A small, hardened plate or flap-like structure that overlaps the base of the forewing of insects in the orders Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera, and Homoptera.
























Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this insect.

Bill Reynolds

Found this Clearwing Hummingbird moth this morning after it spent the night hanging onto a dried thistle bloom.

  hummingbird clearwing   hummingbird clearwing
  hummingbird clearwing   hummingbird clearwing

Tom Baker

  hummingbird clearwing   hummingbird clearwing
  hummingbird clearwing   hummingbird clearwing


  hummingbird clearwing    





  Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)  
  Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)
Bill Keim
  Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)  
  Hemaris thysbe - Hummingbird Clearwing Moth
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
  Hemaris thysbe - Hummingbird Clearwing Moth  

H. diffinis (Snowberry Clearwing) has black legs, the legs of H. thysbe (Hummingbird Clearwing) are off white to reddish, H. gracilis (Slender Clearwing) does have more maroon colored legs than H. thysbe, but the best character to diagnose H. gracilis is a reddish-brown patch along the side of the thorax where the legs meet the thorax, that coloration carries over into the legs. - Ryan St Laurent on Mothing

  Hummingbird Clearwing Moth
  Hummingbird Clearwing Moth  




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos

  hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe)

Uploaded on Aug 29, 2006

This hummingbird clearwing moth has been lurking in my garden for a week or so now. It was so intent on feeding it didn't care how close we approached it.

  Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris Thysbe) Amazing Wing Action HD
Andrew Lombardo

Published on Jul 10, 2013

You have to see the wings starting at about 35 seconds.

nWatch in 1080HD.

  Hemaris thysbe caterpillar
The Urban Gardener

Published on Nov 1, 2013

No description available.

  Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) in slow motion
Little Lives Through My Lenses

Published on Oct 3, 2013

My Blog:
My Facebook:
Blog post for this video:

These are clips I captured of what I am pretty sure is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) which was feeding on Bee Balm flowers at the wildflower reserve at Raccoon Creek State Park in Hookstown, Pennsylvania. I slowed the clips down so that you can really see the moth. They dart around so quickly, like hummingbirds!

  The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Uploaded on Jun 17, 2011

Hemaris thysbe, the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth or Common Clearwing





Visitor Sightings

Share your sighting of this insect.

Bill Reynolds

Location: Pennington Co MN

Found this Clearwing Hummingbird moth this morning after it spent the night hanging onto a dried thistle bloom.  

hummingbird clearwing

Tom Baker


hummingbird clearwing

Tom Baker


hummingbird clearwing






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