Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Genus Hemaris

6013077 sphinx caterpillar - Hemaris diffinis Red caterpillar - Hemaris diffinis I don't think it's a Tomato Hornworm but maybe a close relative - Hemaris diffinis Snowberry Clearwing caterpillar - Hemaris diffinis Snowberry Clearwing Caterpillar? - Hemaris diffinis Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe) - Hemaris thysbe Hemaris Caterpillar, Columbia, SC - Hemaris diffinis Pennsylvania Caterpillar - Hemaris diffinis
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Bombycoidea (Silkworm, Sphinx, and Royal Moths)
Family Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths)
Subfamily Macroglossinae
Tribe Dilophonotini
Genus Hemaris
Other Common Names
Hummingbird Moths
Bee Hawk-Moths (UK)
Clearwing Moths (not recommended because the family Sesiidae has that common name)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Hemaris Dalman, 1816
Explanation of Names
Perhaps from the Greek hemera (ημερα), meaning day (1), possibly referring to the day-flying habits (PDF factsheet on Hemaris tityus, a European species).
Another possibility is hema- "blood" + -aris "of, pertaining to". hema is an alternate spelling of haema, which is from Greek haima (αιμα)- "blood", which usually adds a "t" when combined (Greek neuters follow different rules from other words ending with "a"), while -aris is strictly a Latin suffix. The two parts shouldn't go together at all, but someone coining a name doesn't have to follow the rules.
4 species in North America listed at All-Leps: diffinis, gracilis, thetis, thysbe
About 23 species total--Holarctic (Wikipedia)
Adults are easy to identify to genus level due to their habit of hovering around flowers like bumblebees; see individual species pages for identification to species level.
Represented throughout North America, including the Arctic.
Larvae feed on a variety of plants from several families, Apocynaceae, Caprifoliaceae, Ericaceae, Rosaceae.
Adults take nectar, preferably from long throated flowers, such as horse mint and are pollinators.
Print References
Borror, entry for hemera (1)
Internet References
pinned adult images of all 4 North American species (CBIF)
US distribution maps and other info on diffinis, gracilis, thetis (senta), thysbe
distribution in Canada of all 4 species, listing provinces and territories (CBIF)
Works Cited
1.Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms
Donald J. Borror. 1960. Mayfield Publishing Company.