Subject: Hemaris question
Location: Cleveland National Forest in Riverside County at about 2000 feet.
July 5, 2013 12:40 pm
I presume this is a Hemaris species. I took the photos in the Cleveland National Forest in Riverside County at about 2000 feet. What species is this in Southern California?
Signature: Doug

Bee Hawk Moth

Bee Hawk Moth

Hi Doug,
According to the Sphingidae of the Americas website, the only species of
Hemaris that lives in California is Hemaris thetis, the Bee Hawk Moth.  Bill Oehlke gives this explanation:  “Those Sphingidae west of the continental divide (western Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, California, Arizona, western Wyoming, western Colorado, western New Mexico), previously thought to be H. diffinis are now determined to be the recently elevated species, Hemaris thetis. It is my understanding that the moths described as H. senta also belong to H. thetis as thetis was described (Boisduval, 1855) before senta was described [Strecker, 1878].”  Your photos are quite stunning.  We are copying Bill Oehlke as he may want to record your sighting and he may ask for permission to use your images on his comprehensive site as well.

Bill Oehlke confirms identification
Hi Daniel,
As far as I know the information you quoted is still current and accurate. It looks like Hemaris thetis to me.
My Riverside County thumbnail checklist is at
I wish Doug’s permission to post the image, credited to him, on the Riverside page.
Bill Oehlke

Bee Hawk Moth

Bee Hawk Moth

Thanks for the information!
You are welcome to go ahead and post the images.
If you need a more specific location, the photo was taken along the road towards Blue Jay Campground, off Highway 74.
Best regards,


Location: Cleveland National Forest, Riverside County, California

One Response to Bee Hawk Moth

  1. suellen curcuru says:

    I saw one of these yesterday in my backyard while I was looking at my flowers. It went after the little flowers that look like little petunias. I thought it was a huge bumble bee but the wings were really fast and it had a tongue like a butterfly. kind of looked like a hummingbird too. I live in Saint Clair Shores, Michigan. I wanted to get a picture of it but didn’t have my camera at the time. The abdomen had a bright yellow and black band on the end of it.

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