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Species Hemaris thysbe - Hummingbird Clearwing - Hodges#7853

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth - Hemaris thysbe Hemaris thysbe Hemaris - Hemaris thysbe Is this Hemaris gracilis? - Hemaris thysbe Hummingbird Clearwing - 7853 - Hemaris thysbe Hummingbird Clearwing - Hodges#7853 - Hemaris thysbe Hummingbird Moth - Hemaris thysbe Hummingbird moth - Hemaris thysbe
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
Species thysbe (Hummingbird Clearwing - Hodges#7853)
Hodges Number
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Author of species is Fabricius, 1775, as Sesia thysbe. At one time the species was described under Haemorrhagia Grote (1).
Explanation of Names
Pyramus (πυραμο&sigmaf); and Thisbe (θισβη) were lovers who died tragically--Pyramus found Thisbe's blood-stained scarf, assumed she had been killed, and committed suicide with his sword. It seems likely the reference to the story of Thisbe is a reference to the rusty, somewhat blood-like coloration of this moth. Certainly the application of the genus Haemorrhagia is a reference to blood-like coloration. In support of this idea, Fabricius described a butterfly as Papilio pyramus in 1781, though this is no longer a valid name. This species, in the Nymphalidae, is now apparently Haematera pyrame. An image found on the Internet shows that it has a prominent reddish-orange patch on the upperside of both wings.
Wingspan 40-55 mm
Adult: forewing clear area has partial crossband of dark scales near base, and distal margin of clear area is uneven or ragged-edged (not smooth-edged); legs pale/whitish (vs. reddish in gracilis and black in diffinis). Underside mostly white in front, extending to front legs, then reddish behind, unlike mostly black underside of H. diffinis.
Alaska through central and eastern North America
Open areas with shrubs, young trees, gardens. Adults feed actively on flower nectar during the day while hovering at blossoms.
Adults fly from April to August (one flight) northward; March-June and August-October (two flights) in the south.
Larvae feed on hawthorn, honeysuckle, snowberry, viburnum.
Adults take nectar from deep-throated flowers.
Life Cycle
Two generations per year in the south; one in the north.
Egg; early instar larva; later instar larva; newly eclosed adult with opaque wings; adult
Beautiful, but moves so quickly it can be hard to appreciate.
See Also
Slender Clearwing (Hemaris gracilis) forewing clear area distal margin is even or smooth-edged (not ragged-edged), and legs are reddish (not pale/whitish)
Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) forewing clear area lacks partial crossband of dark scales near base, and legs are black
Print References
Holland, p. 62 (1)
Covell, p. 40, plate 6 #16 (2)
Himmelman, plate C-4, photo of adult (3)
Wagner, p. 268 (4)
Internet References
Moth Photographers Group - species page with photos of living and pinned adults.
Sphingidae of the Americas--shows life cyle
Systema entomologiae, p.548    Fabricius' original description of the species (in Latin)
Works Cited
1.The Moth Book
W.J. Holland. 1968. Dover.
2.Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America
Charles V. Covell, Jr. 2005.
3.Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard
John Himmelman. 2002. Down East Books.
4.Caterpillars of Eastern North America
David L. Wagner. 2005. Princeton University Press.