Clearwing Moth: All You Need to Know – Your Friendly Guide

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Clearwing moths are fascinating insects known for their unique appearance and behavior. Belonging to the family Sphingidae, these moths often display a bumblebee-like appearance with their fuzzy bodies and distinct color patterns. For example, the Snowberry Clearwing has a fuzzy golden yellow body with black and yellow bands on its abdomen.

These remarkable insects are not only visually captivating, but they also exhibit intriguing flight patterns. Unlike many other moth species, Clearwing moths can be seen darting swiftly around flowers, resembling hummingbirds in their movements. Notable examples include the rust-and-chartreuse Hummingbird Moth and the black-and-yellow Snowberry Clearwing.

Some key features of Clearwing moths include:

  • Protruding heads
  • Large eyes
  • Furry thorax
  • Conical abdomen that extends beyond the hindwings during flight
  • Bumblebee or hummingbird-like appearance and behavior

Their captivating look and fascinating flight patterns make Clearwing moths a well-loved species among nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.

Understanding Clearwing Moths

Hemaris and Sphingidae

Clearwing moths belong to the family Sphingidae. A specific group of these moths, known as Hummingbird Moths, belong to the genus Hemaris. They are called “Clear-winged Moths” because of the lack of scales on parts of their wings, which gives them a translucent appearance.

Features of Hemaris moths:

  • Daytime activity
  • Translucent wings
  • Range extending through most of the U.S.

Lepidoptera and Day-Flying Moths

Clearwing moths are part of the order Lepidoptera, which includes butterflies and other moths. What sets them apart from many other members of Lepidoptera is their daytime activity. Many clearwing moths, like those in the genus Hemaris, are day-flying.

Characteristics of day-flying moths:

  • Protruding heads
  • Large eyes
  • Large, furry thorax
Lepidoptera Clearwing Moths
Butterflies/Moths Subgroup of Moths
Mostly nocturnal Often day-flying
Opaque wings Translucent wings

In conclusion, Clearwing moths are a fascinating subgroup of the Lepidoptera order. Their unique characteristics, including translucent wings and day-time habits, make them stand out among their relatives.

Physical Characteristics and Identifying Features

Size and Appearance

  • Clearwing Moths belong to the Sphingidae family
  • They have protruding heads and large eyes

Clearwing Moths are typically around 2 inches in wingspread. Their fuzzy bodies, often with black and yellow bands, resemble bumblebees, which is a clever mimicry to deter predators. Their abdomens extend beyond their hindwings when they fly, giving them a distinctive appearance.

Wings and Antennae

Wings:

  • Clear, with dark scales on the edges
  • Boundary between clear area and outer dark area can be smooth or ragged

Antennae:

  • Long and feathery
  • Sensitive to smells and vibrations

Proboscis and Behavior

The Clearwing Moth, also known as the Hawk Moth, has a long, flexible proboscis that they use to feed on nectar from flowers. This specialized mouthpart allows them to hover in front of flowers similar to a hummingbird, sipping nectar while in flight. Their antennae aid in finding food sources and detecting the presence of other Clearwing Moths.

Behavior:

In summary, identifying features of the Clearwing Moth include their size, antennae, wings, and proboscis. By focusing on these characteristics, one can better understand and appreciate these unique creatures.

Major Clearwing Species

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) is an interesting species due to its bee-like appearance. This moth has an olive to golden olive fuzzy body. Below, it is whitish in the front, and the abdomen is dark burgundy or blackish. It mimics a bumblebee and is slightly larger than the Snowberry Clearwing Moth.

Snowberry Clearwing Moth

Meanwhile, the Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis) is also a sphinx moth species. It has clear wings and a fuzzy, bee-like body. The dark scales on its wings are black, while the boundary between the clear area and outer dark area is smooth.

Here’s a comparison table highlighting their differences:

Feature Hummingbird Clearwing Moth Snowberry Clearwing Moth
Species Name (scientific) Hemaris thysbe Hemaris diffinis
Leg and Body Color Whitish, olive to golden Black
Dark Scales on Wingscolor Brown Black
Wing Pattern Ragged Smooth

Both moths go through the same stages of development:

  • Larvae reach 1 to 1 1/2 inches long before maturing and have a dark brown head and a whitish to pink body.
  • After maturing, they pupate and moths emerge. The empty, thin-walled, brownish pupal cases may protrude from bark or drop to the ground near the base of the tree.

These moths have specific characteristics:

  • Both have clear wings and a fuzzy, bee-like body.
  • Mimics bees or bumblebees for protection.
  • Consume nectar from flowers as their primary food source.
  • Beneficial to the ecosystem by pollinating plants.
  • Attract attention due to their bright colors and unique appearances.

Life Cycle and Reproduction

From Eggs to Caterpillars

Clearwing Moths, belonging to the Sphingidae family, begin their life as eggs. Female moths lay an average of 40 to 50 eggs during a 2 to 3-week period. Once hatched, the caterpillars emerge and start feeding on nearby plants.

Larvae and Their Development

As the caterpillars grow, they go through several stages of development called instars. Each stage is marked by shedding their old skin to reveal a larger one underneath. Some characteristics of Clearwing Moth larvae include:

  • Distinctive horn: Most larval stages have a signature horn at the end of their abdomen
  • Varying color patterns: Different species of Clearwing Moths have distinct color patterns in their larval stage

During their development, caterpillars eat voraciously to fuel their growth. In some cases, this includes eating leaves and stems as a source of nutrients.

Pupation and Cocoon Formation

The final stage of the Clearwing Moth life cycle is pupation. Once fully grown, the caterpillar forms a cocoon in the soil or under plant debris. Inside the cocoon, the pupa transforms into an adult moth, completing the life cycle.

Life Stage Duration Key Features
Egg stage 2 to 3 weeks Laid on plants; eggs hatch to caterpillars
Larval (instars) Variable Horn on abdomen, color patterns, shedding skin
Pupation Variable Form a cocoon in the soil or under plant debris
Adult moth Short-lived Mate, lay eggs, and complete the cycle

In summary, the Clearwing Moth life cycle involves several distinct stages, from eggs to caterpillars, through larval development and finally, pupation, and cocoon formation. Each stage plays a crucial role in the survival and reproduction of these fascinating creatures.

Habitats and Distribution

North America

In North America, Clearwing Moths are commonly found across various regions. Their habitats include fields1, gardens2, and forests3. Some species like the Snowberry Clearwing have a bumblebee-like appearance4.

  • Fields: Abundant in wildflowers.
  • Gardens: Feed on nectar from flowering plants.
  • Forests: Larvae feed on tree bark.

England

In England, Clearwing Moths also inhabit diverse areas5. Woodlands, grasslands, and gardens are common habitats. The species tends to lay eggs on host plants, such as plum and apple trees6.

  • Woodlands: Provide shelter and feeding opportunities.
  • Grasslands: Offer a variety of host plants.
  • Gardens: Attract moths with flowering plants.

Other Regions

Clearwing Moths can be found in different regions as well7. They spread across Europe, Asia, and even some parts of Africa8.

  • Europe: Adaptable to various climates.
  • Asia: Prefers subtropical and temperate regions.
  • Africa: Tends to be limited to North African areas.

Comparison of Habitats

Region Fields Gardens Woodlands
North America
England
Other Regions

Diet and Host Plants

Flowers and Nectar

Clearwing moths, like other moth species, are important pollinators. They typically feed on nectar from various flowers, including honeysuckle and those of the rose family. At night, they’re attracted to pale or white flowers with strong fragrances and abundant nectar1. Below are some flowers that Clearwing moths visit:

  • Honeysuckle
  • Hawthorn
  • Dogbane

Caterpillars and Leaves

Clearwing moth caterpillars have a different diet compared to their adult counterparts. They primarily feed on the leaves of host plants3. Here are some examples of host plants:

  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Apple
Clearwing Moth Life Stage Diet
Adult Nectar from various flowers
Caterpillar Leaves from host plants

To summarize:

  • Clearwing moths feed on flower nectar as adults and help pollinate various plant species.
  • Caterpillars consume leaves of host plants, which can include oak, maple, and apple trees.

Relationships with Other Species

Hummingbirds and Butterflies

Clearwing moths share similarities with hummingbirds and butterflies. They are often mistaken for these creatures due to their appearance and behavior. For instance:

  • Hummingbird Moth and Hummingbird Clearwing are names given to moths with a hovering flight pattern, much like hummingbirds.
  • Some Clearwing Moths are similar to butterflies in appearance and daytime habits.

Urban Dictionary

Clearwing Moths are also known by various common names, which can sometimes be found on platforms like Urban Dictionary:

  • Hummingbird Moths, reflecting their hovering behavior and resemblance to hummingbirds.
  • Sphinx Moth Family, referring to the moth family Sphingidae, which includes Clearwing Moths.

Sphinx Moth Family

Clearwing moths belong to the Sphinx Moth Family (Sphingidae). Some characteristics of this family include:

  • Large eyes and a protruding head.
  • A furry thorax and a conical abdomen.
  • Active during the day and at night (depending on the species).

Comparing Clearwing Moths to other Sphinx Moths:

Feature Clearwing Moths Other Sphinx Moths
Wings Transparent areas Mostly opaque
Flight pattern Hovering; similar to hummingbirds Typically fast and strong
Activity time Primarily daytime Daytime and nighttime

In summary, Clearwing Moths have fascinating relationships with other species in terms of appearance, behavior, and family classification. They resemble and behave like hummingbirds and butterflies, have various common names, and share characteristics with the Sphinx Moth Family.

Threats and Conservation

Clearwing moths are known to cause damage to various plants. Some of the most impacted species include shade trees and shrubs1. The damage is caused primarily by the clearwing moth larvae, which can grow to be 1 to 1 1/2 inches long2.

Larvae tunnel under the bark of trees and shrubs3, making them nearly impossible to reach with most insecticides. This can cause major issues in maintaining the health of affected plants.

Several efforts can help limit the impact of clearwing moths on plants:

  • Early detection: Inspect your trees and shrubs for signs of clearwing moth infestations.

  • Prevention methods: Pheromone traps can be set up to monitor and control clearwing moth populations4.

  • Partnerships: Collaborate with local USDA offices or state agriculture departments to report sightings and control efforts5.

Using these proactive steps, we can better protect our plants from the threat of clearwing moths.

Footnotes

  1. https://uwm.edu/field-station/clearwing-moth/ 2 3

  2. https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7477.html 2

  3. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/snowberry-clearwing 2 3

  4. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/snowberry-clearwing 2

  5. https://www.britishlogcabins.com/clearwing-moth 2

  6. https://www.britishlogcabins.com/clearwing-moth

  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/clearwing-moth

  8. https://www.bioone.org/clearwing-moth

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Bumblebee Moth

 

Subject: Moth or bee?
Location: Brandon , Mississippi
September 3, 2016 4:34 pm
I tried identifying this insect and can’t find a pic of anything that looks like this. I thought it was a moth but then then it sort of looks like a bee too. Any ideas? Thank you.
Signature: Deb Pittman

Bumblebee Moth
Bumblebee Moth

Dear Deb,
Because it is a moth that mimics a bee, the Snowberry Clearwing,
Macroglossa diffinis, is commonly called a Bumblebee Moth.  According to Sphingidae of the Americas:  “Hemaris diffinis is a very variable species, but almost always the abdomen sports contrasting black and yellow hairs, the ventral surface being quite black. The legs also tend to be quite dark and there is a black mask running across the eye and along the sides of the thorax.  Adults mimic bumblebees and are quite variable, both geographically and seasonally. The wings are basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases and edges. The thorax is golden-brown to dark greenish-brown. The abdomen tends to be dark (black) with 1-2 yellow segments just before the terminal end. These yellow segments are in much sharper contrast to the rest of the abdomen than in somewhat similar species. Also note the relatively narrow dark outer margin of the hindwing. Most fresh specimens also have some blue ‘fur’ tufts highlighting the first black band on the abdomen.”

Letter 2 – Bumblebee Moth

 

Subject: found in joplin missouri
Location: joplin missouri
March 17, 2013 7:42 am
I found this bug at my house Curious of the species. It eats like a butterfly but is very bee like.
Signature: derek Allphin

Bumblebee Moth
Bumblebee Moth

Dear Derek,
This is one of the diurnal Sphinx Moths in the genus
Hemaris, and we believe it is the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth, Hemaris diffinis.  This is very early in the year for a sighting, and according to BugGuide, the earliest sighting from Missouri is April on the data page.  More information on the Bumblebee Moth can be found on the Sphingidae of the Americas website. 

Letter 3 – Heady Maiden Moth from South Africa

 

Subject: Very bright moth
Location: South Africa, Pretoria, Rosslyn
March 17, 2017 7:29 am
Hi we found this moth in Rosslyn Pretoria South Africa, it was on the 17th of March 2017, during the day time sitting on the ground. It is a very bright turquoise with bright orange stripes, blue wings with white dots. There is some pictures attached
Signature: Dawie Reyneke

Heady Maiden Moth

Dear Dawie,
We quickly identified this diurnal Tiger Moth as a Heady Maiden Moth,
Amata cerbera, thanks to images posted to iSpot, and we verified that identification with this Project Noah posting.  Many other moths in the subfamily Arctiinae are also effective wasp mimics.

Letter 4 – Another Hummingbird Clearwing

 

Was that a hummingbird?!
Location:  NE Georgia mountains
August 14, 2010 6:58 pm
At first that’s what we thought, then realized it is a bit too small (about 2-1/2 inches. But it was on our petunias and another flower, grabbing nectar like a butterfly, never stopped beating its wings. Appeared harmless enough. We are in the mountains of NE Georgia (USA), August.
bpurvis

Hummingbird Clearwing

Dear bpurvis,
We just finished posting another photo of this hummingbird impersonator.  It is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth,
Hemaris thysbe.

Correction
correction re Hummingbird Clearwing
August 14, 2010 9:50 pm
Daniel:
the photos today (Aug. 14th) that you ID’ed as Snowberry Clearwing actually appear to be Hemaris thysbe, often called a Hummingbird Clearwing.  According to BugGuide.net, the correct binomial for Snowberry Clearwing is Hemaris diffinis.
It’s the one without the combo of rust and light green.  Thanks for maintaining your site, it must be a lot of work!
regards, Dave Fallow in Madison WI

Letter 5 – Blue Dasher and Green Clearwing

 

Dragonfly pictures
Hi!
I just got a new camera and have been taking all kinds of pictures (especially of dragonflies…MY FAVORITE!) Is there anything interesting you can tell me about any of these dragonflies? I love your website, by the way!
Jaime

Blue Dasher Green Clearwing


Hi Jaime,
Your photos are great. I see you are mastering that new camera. We have identified two of your dragonflies. One is a Green Darner, Anax junius, also known as the Snake Doctor or Darning Needle. It is one of the fastest and biggest of the common dragonflies. The thorax is green and abdomen blue or sometimes gray. The compound eyes are often the color of milk chocolate. The Green Clearwing, Erythemis simplicicollis, has a bright green face and thorax with a green abdomen spotted with brown. It frequently rests on bare earth as your photo proves. We will try to identify your other dragonflies when time allows. Though we do not own this book, we have others in the series and can highly recommend it: Dragonflies Through Binoculars: A Field Guide to Dragonflies of North America (Butterflies and Others Through Binoculars Field Guide Series) by Sidney W. Dunkle

Update (01/29/2006)
odonata
Hi, my name is Larry Hamrin. While researching dragonflies, I came across your site. I don’t consider myself an expert at identifying dragonflies, but I would like to comment on some of the dragonflies on your website. The dragonfly you identify as a green darner looks like an immature Blue Dasher. By immature I mean a dragonfly after it has emerged but before it has aquired its fully adult coloration. Actually a freshly emerged dragonfly is refered to as ” teneral”, so it’s really between teneral and fully matured Here is a website with a blue dasher where the dragonfly is refered to as immature. The male will have a coloration somewhat like a female at first, then change to its normal color as it gets older.
Thank you for your time
Larry Hamrin

Letter 6 – Bumblebee Moth

 

Don’t you love it when people bug you?
July 22, 2010
Dan,
I have never seen this bug before but I am sure you have??? It
is about 1/3 longer than a bumblebee and the same color but its wings
are different and go about 1,000 times a second. The pic shows it with
a bumblebee.
These pics were taken July 17,2010o, in Lawrenceville,GA
Thanks. Have a great day,
Ferd Hall

Bumblebee Moth

Hi Ferd,
There are three moths in the genus
Hemaris that Bill Oehlke lists as ranging in Georgia, and they all look similar and we sometimes have difficulty distinguishing them from one another.  We are going to take a bit of artistic license and say that your individual is a Bumblebee Moth or Snowberry Clearwing, Hemaris diffinis, based on comparisons with the images posted to Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  We are also amused that you have a photo of the Bumblebee Moth with a Bumble Bee for comparison.

Bumble Bee and Bumblebee Moth

Letter 7 – Bumblebee Moth

 

Subject:  Bee/moth???
Geographic location of the bug:  West Kootenay,B.C ,canada
Date: 08/23/2021
Time: 09:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman, I found this fellow resting on my lilac bush. I posted a picture on facebook and a local farm page. They all say it looks like a hummingbird moth. I have seen a hummingbird moth and it didnt look like this. Your help is appreciated, thank you for your time.
How you want your letter signed: Brenda

Bumblebee Moth

Dear Brenda,
The folks who thought this was a Hummingbird Moth
Hemaris thysbe, recognized that this is a member of the same genus. Hemaris.  Your moth is Hemaris thetis.  According to Pacific Northwest Moths:  “Hemaris thetis is a medium-sized, day-flying sphinx moth (FW length 17 mm) with clear wings that resembles a bumblebee. The forewings are long and very narrow for the size of the moth and the hindwings are quite small” and “Adults fly during the day and are bumblebee mimics.  They nectar and hover in front of flowers while feeding, unlike bumblebees which land on the flower.”  There are many images on Butterflies and Moths of North America.  According to CalScape it is called a Bumblebee Moth.  As an aside, many diurnal Sphinx Moths are called Hummingbird Moths.

Bumblebee Moth
Daniel,  Thank you very much.
Brenda

 

Letter 8 – Bug of the Month July 2017: Clematis Borer

 

Subject: What kind of insect is this?
Location: Northwest Ohio, U.S.A
June 29, 2017 6:32 pm
Dear bugman,
I happened to notice this strange critter while at work today. I work at a greenhouse with flowers and vegetables. Unfortunately I could only get one picture of it before it flew away, rapidly. It has a shiny segmented body and a small, waspish head. The long orange “tail” also appeared segmented, and quite fuzzy. I have looked and found nothing like it on the internet. Please help? Thank you!
Signature: Hanna B.

Clematis Borer

Dear Hanna,
Your description of this insect as “waspish” is spot on because this is a wasp-mimicking Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae, and we eventually identified it on BugGuide as a Clematis Borer,
Alcathoe caudata.  The binomial species name is thus defined on BugGuide: “Caudata from Latin caud, meaning ‘tailed.’ Adult males have a long tail-like appendage on the abdomen. ”  Your individual is a yellow-tailed male.  We have no other images of identified male Clematis Borers on our site, but we do have several images of female Clematis BorersBugGuide also states:  “Larva bore into the roots of Clematis and Ribes species.”  According to Las Pilitas Nursery, the genus Ribes includes gooseberries and currants and Clematis is a popular flowering vine used in landscaping in Youngstown, Ohio.  It is the end of the month and we are selecting your submission as the Bug of the Month for July 2017 because we are so thrilled to now have both sexes of the Clematis Borer in our archives.

Thank you so much! I’m glad that it “bugged” me enough to ask! Happy that I have also provided a useful photo, albeit a slightly blurry one!
Hanna B.

Letter 9 – Clearwing

 

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth
No question, really – just another Hummingbird Clearwing Moth photo if you’d like to use it. Seen for the first time by several neighbors on one day in August, 2008.
Kim Gould
Aliquippa , PA

Hi Kim,
We have been getting numerous excellent images of Clearwing Moths in the genus Hemaris recently, and it is time to post a photo on our homepage. We have difficulty distinguishing the different members of the genus as there is much variability within the species as well as similarity between the species. We will copy Bill Oehlke on our reply so he can utilize your location data for his records, and also perhaps he can identify the species for us.

Letter 10 – Clearwing Butterfly

 

clear winged butterfly
This beautiful butterfly we can’t identify or find it anywhere on your website. Does it have a name? Please reply so my kids can classify. Thanks!
Ginger New Mexico

Hi Ginger,
We located a site by simply typing clearwing butterfly into google that gives this information: “Clearwing Butterfly, Oleria spp. (Family Ithomiidae) These ethereal and delicate tropical forest butterflies are often lured out of their seclusion by the chemicals found in dried Heliotropes. Their wings lack the usual dense covering of scales that give other butterflies their distinct coloration. This transparency renders these clearwing butterflies elusive as they appear and disappear in the dense forest undergrowth. After observing these butterflies, it is easy to see how numerous butterfly wings adorn the backs of fairies.”

Letter 11 – Clearwing Butterfly from Guyana is Cithaerias andromeda

 

Butterfly
Location: Guyana, Northwest Interior near Mathew’s Ridge
February 9, 2011 5:10 pm
This butterfly caught my eye in in some pristine rainforest near Matthew’s Ridge, Guyana. It was flying and resting about three feet off the ground. The wingspan was about four inches.
Signature: G. Fischer

Clearwing Butterfly is Cithaerias andromeda

Dear G. Fischer,
This lovely Clearwing Brushfooted Butterfly in the subfamily Satyrinae might be
Pseudohaeterea hypaesia based on a photo posted on TrekNature.  Your lovely individual has obviously never needed its ocula (we hope that is the correct biological name for a false eyespot) as a defense mechanism.  Research provided the proper name for a false eyespot, and it is ocellus.  We also found this little ethereal beauty on the Haeterini (must be the tribe) images website.

Update:  July 8, 2014
Thanks to a recent comment, we are able to provide links to images of Cithaerias andromeda andromeda on Butterflies of America, Tree of Life and on the Neotropical Butterflies site.

Letter 12 – Clearwing from Costa Rica

 

Subject: glass butterfly
Location: Costa Rica Tortuguero
August 8, 2014 1:44 am
can you help us with naming a glass butterfly, seen in Tortuguero Costa Rica, march 2014
Signature: fredfrombelgium

Clearwing:  Greta species
Clearwing: Greta species

Dear Fred from Belgium,
We located the Monteverde Natural History site that has a marvelous Guide to Clearwing Butterflies.  We believe your individual is in the genus
Greta, most likely Greta anette or Greta nero.  Since the former is listed as common and the latter as uncommon, we would have to favor Greta annette which is also pictured on Butterflies of America where a second “n” is included in the name.  Other internet sites spell the species name with the second “n” as Greta annette, so we are assuming that is the proper spelling.  Since we are quite busy right now, if we do not respond to your other outstanding requests, please resubmit them in a few days.

Letter 13 – Clearwing Wasp Moth

 

Ctenuchine Tiger Moth?
Dear Bug Man…
Just discovered your site. Cool! Unfortunately, I’ve just spent the last hour cruising your pages when I should be in bed! Anyway, perhaps you can help identify a moth my 12-year-old-budding-entomologist son caught on a cruise ship just outside Cancun Mexico last October… We’ve been told it is a Ctenuchine Tiger Moth, but the entomologist who told us that did not provide the genus and species. Could you please help with the taxonomy? He’s taking the moth to the Missouri State Fair this week… and I’ll bet he’s the only 4-Her to have one at the fair this year!
Thank you so much…
Scott, St. James, MO
ps I’ll have to come back and cruise your site some more with my son… when its not midnight! SA

Hi Scott,
We believe your moth is most likely from the genus Cosmosoma, Family Syntomidae or Ctenuchidae. According to Holland, these are sometimes called Clearwing Wasp Moths. Ctenucha generally have brown or black wings. Sorry we can’t give you an exact species. We only have one member of the genus Cosmosoma stateside. That is the Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma auge. We have a photo on our Moth Page. This is a large genus well represented in Central and South America. Hope that helps.

Letter 14 – Clearwing Wasp Mimic: Virginia Creeper Clearwing

 

What type of insect
Do you now what type of insect this is.
Daniel

Hi Daniel,
This is a Wasp Mimic Moth in the family Sesiidae, but we cannot tell the species.

Ed. Note:
January 17, 2009
Thanks to taftw who just posted a comment, we now know that this is Albuna fraxini, the Virginia Creeper Clearwing.  The species is well represented on BugGuide.

Letter 15 – Clearwing Moth is Rhododendron Borer

 

Subject: Unidentified
Location: Northeast, OH
June 20, 2012 1:06 am
We found this beauty in our front yard and have been trying to identify it. We would love to know how to tag it in our family nature journal.
Signature: Thanks, Melissa

Clearwing Moth

Hi Melissa,
The best we can do right now is a family identification.  This is a Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae, a group that includes many mimics of wasps and bees.  You can search BugGuide to try to determine the species identity.

Update:  November 17, 2012
Thanks to a comment we just received, we now know that this is a Rhododendron Borer, Synanthedon rhododendri .  Alas, BugGuide has not photos in their guide for comparison, and there is but one image of a mounted specimen available on Bugguide, but it does appear to match.  There is also an image of a mounted specimen on the Moth Photographers Group.  Though there are no photos of the moth, there are photos of the damage caused by the Rhododendron Borer on Gardenphile.  Finally, Penn State University has a very comprehensive posting with a nice entomological drawing.  Seems What’s That Bug? might have one of the only photos of a living specimen available online.

Letter 16 – Clearwing Moth

 

Subject: strange abdomen or ovipositor? wasp?
Location: Tinley Park, IL, USA
July 21, 2012 12:19 pm
Hello!
Was wondering what sort of insect this may be? Wings had a slightly yellow tinge and abdomen had an unusual end that pointed back towards the head.
Was hanging out on a screen that led to my balcony. Was able to shoot it’s underside, but it’s back was hard to capture because of the sky backlighting. It looked like it had little yellow ”shoulder straps” that are faintly visible in the photo. Head to abdomen was just under an inch long.
Was shot around 2pm on July 14, 2012.
Signature: KippyQ

Clearwing Moth

Dear KippyQ,
This is one of the Clearwing Moths in the family Sesiidae, a group that contains many wasp mimic members.  We believe we might have correctly identified your Clearwing Moth as
Synanthedon fatifera based on this BugGuide photo, though there are many similar looking members in the genus Synanthedon.

Letter 17 – Clearwing Moth

 

Clearwing Moth
Clearwing Moth

Subject: Unknown Wasp
Location: Brazoria County, Tx
October 14, 2014 10:03 pm
I took this photo on Oct. 13, 2014 while birding at San Bernard Wildlife Rufuge near Lake Jackson, TX on the Texas Gulf Coast. It was on a plant in a butter fly garden. Can you identify it for me?
Signature: Joe & Jane

Dear Joe & Jane,
Though it is a very effective wasp mimic, this is actually a Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae which has many members that benefit from looking and acting like wasps.  We need to rush off right now, so we can’t take the time to research the species, but you can try browsing the family on BugGuide to see if you can find a match.  Please let us know if you find something close.

Letter 18 – Clearwing Moth

 

Subject: Wasp like moth
Location: Plano Tx, north of Dallas
July 17, 2016 12:40 pm
I’m sure this is a moth, but wondering what kind. I found it motionless in some ivy treebine.
Signature: Steve

Clearwing Moth: Vitacea admiranda
Clearwing Moth: Vitacea admiranda

Dear Steve,
Your suspicions that this is a moth are correct.  It is one of the wasp-mimic Clearwing Moths in the family Sesiidae.  We believe we have correctly identified it as
Vitacea admiranda thanks to images posted to BugGuide where it states:  “Adult – resembles Polistes paper wasps” and “Larval hosts are likely grapes (Vitaceae). Knudson & Bordelon observed the adults in association with mustang grape (Vitis mustangensis).”  BugGuide also indicates:  “This species was practically unknown before synthetic pheromones, only three specimens in major collections for the first 100 years. It is now known throughout Texas, and is exquisitely sensitive to pheromone residues on skin or clothing.”  We verified that identification on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Fauna Project.

Thank you Daniel, this is great information, I really do appreciate it.

Letter 19 – Clearwing Moth: Carmenta giliae

 

Subject: Clearwing Moth + Hover Fly
Location: Central MT mountains
July 28, 2016 8:33 pm
Took this photo today in the Highwood Mountains east of Great Falls, MT at Showdown Ski Area.
It is similar to the Rhododendron borer, but there aren’t any rhododendrons in this area.
Also, 2nd picture is of a mimic, hover fly, but that is all I know. Can you identify?
Signature: Renee

Clearwing Moth: Carmenta giliae
Clearwing Moth: Carmenta giliae

Dear Renee,
We are relatively confident we have identified your Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae as
Carmenta giliae based on images posted to the Moth Photographers Group.  We double checked that with BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, the habitat is “Mid to high elevation montane meadows” and “Larvae bore in the roots of wild geranium (Geranium, Geraniaceae). Adults take nectar from a variety of flowers.”  We will attempt to identify your Hover Fly in a distinct posting.

Letter 20 – Clearwing Moth: Euhagena nebraskae

 

Euhagena
September 27, 2009
Hi Lisa Anne and Daniel, over the past two weeks I have sporadically been observing a group of these Euhagena nebraskae. The area I’m seeing them is well-known to me and little or none of their reported larval food (Oenothera) grows there. I did follow a female who I believe was ovipositing and collected what may be her egg from an Helianthus she tapped her abdomen against. Am just wondering if any of your readers have had similar observations.
Thanks,
Dwaine
near Casper, WY

Euhagena nebraskae
Euhagena nebraskae

Hi Dwaine,
We can always count on you to provide our website with excellent photos of underrepresented species.  This Clearwing Moth has larvae that are root borers in plants belonging to the primrose family as you have indicated.  Often the larval food plant information posted online is incomplete, and it is possible the Euhagena nebraskae uses plants in the sunflower family when primrose is not available.  We will post your letter and awesome images in the hope that our readership can elaborate on your observations.

Euhagena nebraskae
Euhagena nebraskae

How fortuitous that you were also able to photograph the sexually dimorphic male of the species.  Are you able to clarify that our posting is correct?

Euhagena nebraskae male
Euhagena nebraskae male

Letter 21 – Clearwing Moth might be Female American Hornet Moth

 

Subject:  Bee??
Geographic location of the bug:  Sw washington
Date: 07/10/2020
Time: 01:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What the heck is this?
How you want your letter signed:  Rochelle

Clearwing Moth

Dear Rochelle,
This is not a Bee, but your mistake is understandable.  This is actually a Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae, and many members of the family are very effective Wasp mimics.  We believe this might be an American Hornet Moth which is pictured on BugGuide, and the long ovipositor indicates this is a female.

Letter 22 – Clearwing Satyr Butterfly from Ecuador: Amber Phantom

 

clear winged butterfly from Ecuador
Hi Bugman,
I photographed this beautiful butterfly in the rainforest of eastern Ecuador, near the north bank of the Rio Napo, on Feb 23, 2007. I haven’t been able to identify it. Can you tell me what species it is? We’d love to be able to put a species name and common name with the photo on the web site. Thanks,
Stephanie Donaldson

Hi Stephanie,
Identifying tropical insects is often very difficult for us since there is not as much information available online or in text books as there is for North American or European species. We will post your image and try to identify it in the future. Additionally, many times our readers provide us with answers for unidentified species. Many Clearwing Butterflies, also known as Glasswings, are in the subfamily Heliconiinae, a division of the Nymphalidae.

Update: (04/30/2007)
We had a commitment today to supervise a computer lab. While the students worked, we whiled away the hours doing some web research. We did not positively identify this species, but we are nearly certain this is a Clearwing Satyr in the genus Cithaerias.

Update:  January 5, 2015
We just received a comment indicating that this is
Haetera piera.  We browsed that name and found several images from the same genus on Ecuador Butterfly Photos.  Butterflies of Amazonia provides this information:  “The tribe Haeterini is confined exclusively to the neotropical region. All members of this tribe are elusive crepuscular butterflies which spend their lives skulking deep in the undergrowth. There are 5 genera – Pierella, Pseudohaetera, Cithaerias, Dulcedo and Haetera. All butterflies in the latter 4 genera have rounded transparent wings, with small ocelli at the apex of the hindwings.  The genus Haetera comprises of 2 species – macleannania and piera. Both are extremely similar, but macleannania has a reddish flush on the hindwings, while in piera this is amber in colour.  Haetera macleannania is found from Costa Rica to Colombia, and is replaced further south by piera which is found in Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

Letter 23 – Clearwing Sesiid Moth from Poland

 

Subject: Mysterious bug
Location: Warsaw, Poland
June 14, 2015 1:18 pm
I found this insect, and it looked really cool. I tried searching for what it could be, but I couldn’t find anything! Do you know what this bug could be??
Signature: Jan Szenk

Clearwing Moth
Clearwing Moth

Dear Jan,
This is a wasp-mimic Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae, and we will attempt to supply you with a species name.

Letter 24 – Clearwing Wasp Mimic: Douglas Fir Pitch Moth

 

wasp mimic
Hi –
I love your website! What a great idea – we get info, you get distribution and emergence data. I found this “wasp” on the kitchen table this morning, in Port Townsend, WA – on the Olympic peninsula. It didn’t seem quite right, because it was inactive, and lacked the wasp waist, and there was something about its antennae that said “Lep” – sure enough, when I looked at it with my loupe, scales on the edges of the wings, scales on the body. I left my Covell moth field guide back east – do you know which species this is? Curious that so many of your “wierd bugs” are moths – they sure have a wide range of disguises. Anyway, thanks and keep up the good work-
Nancy Lowe
Port Townsend, WA

Hi Nancy,
You are correct about this being one of the Wasp Mimics in the family Sesiidae, but we are not prepared at this time to identify the species or genus. We need to do additional research and hope someone can come to our assistance.

Ed. Note
January 17, 2009
Thanks to taftw who placed a comment, we now know that this is a Douglas Fir Pitch Moth, Synanthedon novaroensis
.

Letter 25 – Grasshopper: Dissosteira spurcata

 

CAMNULA PELLUCIDA
July 28, 2009
Caught this guy today and he was quite a sight to see flying just a buzz of white I think this is a Camnula pellucida and it does have clear wings. Caught in Washington State in Okanogan which is just southof the Canadian border.
The message is ready to be sent with the following file or link attachments:
Ernie
Okanogan, Washington

Clearwinged Grasshopper???
Clearwinged Grasshopper???

Hi Ernie,
We aren’t totally convince that this is a Clearwinged Grasshopper, Camnula pellucida based on images posted to BugGuide.  We will post your image and continue to research, and perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide an answer.
Since you are not submitting your requests using our website form, it is creating additional work for us on the posting end.

Update from Eric Eaton
Hi, Daniel:
I became intrigued by the image of the “clearwinged grasshopper,” and was likewise suspicious that it was something else.  I think I have found the answer.  I believe it is a specimen of Dissosteira spurcata, and the Okanagan would be about the northern limit of its range, if not a slight range extension.  Very nice find.  We could use more images over at Bugguide, and one of the grasshopper experts there might take great interest in this given the location.  Thanks.
Eric

Update from Ernie
Clear Wing Grasshoper
July 29, 2009
Clear wing grasshopper with its wing spread. There is some black on the wings. Camnula pellucida.
Ernie
Okanogan, Washington

Band Winged Grasshopper
Band Winged Grasshopper

Hi again Ernie,
Eric Eaton believes this is Dissosteira spurcata, a Band Winged Grasshopper in the subfamily Oedipodinae with no common name.  Eric has also requested that you post your images to BugGuide where experts can weigh in.  We also have a suggestion for you.  We believe you should only be using post production software like photoshop to crop, color correct, and adjust contrast, and not to clone in backgrounds.  While the blurry grass background on your images might be more aesthetically pleasing, you might be eliminating crucial details that would assist in identification.

Letter 26 – Common Clearwing

 

Hummingbird Moth — Hanover, MD
This moth was visiting my garden yesterday and I am trying to confirm what kind it is. I really like your website, and I think that my moth is in the clearwing family, but didn’t see any pictures that looked like mine. The wings never stopped moving, and he flitted around just like a hummingbird.
Thanks, Susan Schmaltz

Hi Susan,
Nice photo of a Hummingbird Moth or Common Clearwing, Hemaris thysbe.

Letter 27 – Clematis Borer

 

Subject: Synanthedon exitiosa?
Location: Nashville, TN
September 16, 2012 8:56 pm
We think this a type of borer. The closest our bug guide has is a Peach Tree Borer; Synanthedon exitiosa. It’s not a perfect match. Can you help us identify this bug?
Signature: Jennifer

Clematis Borer

Dear Jennifer,
Though your species identification is incorrect, we are impressed that you came so close with this difficult identification.  You are correct that this is a Borer in the Clearwing Moth family Sesiidae, a group known for excellent mimicry of wasps.  They are often called Wasp Moths.  This is a Clematis Borer,
Alcathoe carolinensis, and we identified it on BugGuide.  The Clematis Borer and the Peach Tree Borer are both in the same tribe, Synanthedonini, so they are very closely related, hence they share similar physical attributes.

Letter 28 – Clematis Borer

 

Subject: Small blue insect
Location: Memphis, TN
September 10, 2014 12:15 pm
I saw this fellow flying in my yard this morning. I don’t recall ever seeing one before. I reckon it was about an inch long. Any idea what this is?
Signature: William Cooper

Clematis Borer
Clematis Borer

Hi William,
Even though your insect has black wings, it is a member of the moth family Sesiidae, commonly called the Clearwings.  The members of the family Sesiidae are wasp mimics, and even though they cannot sting, they derive protection from their protective coloration and markings.  We first found a similar looking individual on the Moth Photographers Group that is identified as
Alcathoe caudata, the Clematis Clearwing Moth, and upon checking Bugguide we found a good match with Alcathoe carolinensis which is called the Clematis Borer.  The moths in the family Sesiidae have larvae that bore in woody plants, sometimes causing considerable damage, though the Clematis Borer might be unjustly tagged with an unfitting common name based on this BugGuide statement:  “Although other Alcathoe use species of Clematis (Ranunculaceae) as larval hosts, earlier reports of carolinensis on this host have been called into question and no Clematis species were found within 160 meters of the Tennessee collection site.” No larval host and no common name are included in the Butterflies and Moths of North America site.

That makes sense — the photo that I sent actually shows the insect on a clematis leaf!
Thanks!!  I enjoy the site.

Letter 29 – Currant Clearwing Borer

 

Subject: Unknown Moth
Location: Tacoma, Washington USA
June 8, 2017 6:05 am
Found this moth hanging around a black currant. Pictures don’t really show it, but at a distance of a couple feet, the moth is really difficult to see flying, and even harder to see on the currant branch. Saw it flying in the same area three times during the day. Only saw it land only once. Got the pictures then. Body is 13-15 mm. I didn’t notice the insect shell it is standing on until I looked at the pictures. Don’t know if they’re related.
Signature: Ralph

Currant Clearwing Borer

Dear Ralph,
This is one of the Clearwing Borer Moths in the family Sesiidae, a group with many members that are excellent wasp mimics.  Thanks so much for supplying the name of the host plant because we were able to quickly identify your Currant Clearwing Borer,
Synanthedon tipuliformis, thanks to images on BugGuide where it states:  “Larvae bore in the canes and branches of species of currants and gooseberries (Ribes, Saxifragaceae) and to a lesser extent blackberries (Rubus, Rosaceae). “

Currant Clearwing Borer

Letter 30 – Green Clearwing

 

Another Pondhawk
What I did not realise with these insects is that their heads can move left or right quite a distance. I always thought that their heads were fixed.
Mark

Hi again Mark,
We are amused by your name Pondhawk. It is quite appropriate. We also like Devil’s Darning Needle and Caballo del Diablo as common names for Dragonflies. We believe this to be a Green Clearwing, Erythemis simplicicollis. The color description according to Audubon is “Face and thorax bright green, top of head darker. Abdomen green, spotted with dark brown on top segments 3-10, spots progressively larger toward tip; tip yellow in male. Legs black with long black spines on tibiaw. … Wings clear.”

The Audubon field guide to Florida refers to Erythemis simplicicollis as the Eastern Pondhawk. Must be the colloquial term for it in Florida. Erythemis vesiculosa is refered to as the Great Pondhawk. Thanks again
Mark

Letter 31 – Green Clearwing

 

Dear Bugman :o)
I just found your site yesterday and spent a few hours looking at all of the amazing bugs that you have listed there. I noticed a section for dragonflies and thought you might be interested in a picture of another variety. I live in Florida, and find these guys around my yard. I have some other bug photos around here somewhere (there’s a lot of neat bugs here in Florida) and I will send them if I see that you do not already have photos to represent them.
Thanks for the great site, it’s listed in my favorites under the "~~~Way Cool!" folder.
Have a great day!
Maddy

Hi Maddy,
We are honored to be in your Way Cool folder. If you try to visit over the next few weeks, you will find us shut down due to heavy traffic. We will return in September. The beginning of the month is the best time to log on. We are posting your photo of a Green Clearwing, Erythemis simpliciollis. It is common in the South. The green and brown striped abdomen is distinctive.

Letter 32 – Fireweed Borer

 

Hi –
What a great site, funny and very informative! I think this is a clearwing moth – I took the photo over Labor Day weekend at about 10,000 feet in the Eastern Sierra. What is it? Thanks,
Allison

Hi Allison,
We are so thrilled you appreciate our humor. We just posted a letter from an irate reader who called us rude. This is definitely one of the Wasp Mimicing Clearwing Moths in the Family Sesiidae, but the species is unknown to us.

Update:
January 19, 2009
We just approved a comment that identified this as a Fireweed Borer, Albuna pyramidalis.

Letter 33 – Clearwing Chrysalis from Peru

 

metallic chrysalis
Location: Libertad, Peru, north coast
April 10, 2012 11:35 pm
I found this chrysalis in northern Peru April 7th 2012 on the west slope of the Andes. I thought at first it was a candy wrapper caught in the tree as it was completely gold but as you can see when I used the flash it came out completely different.
Signature: steve

Unknown Chrysalis

Dear Steve,
This is surely a lovely Chrysalis.  We will contact Keith Wolfe who frequently assists us with butterfly caterpillars and chrysalids to see if he can provide an identification.

Keith Wolfe Responds
Hello Steve and Daniel,
Sorry for the tardy reply.  This is a Clearwing (Nymphalidae, Danainae, Ithomiini) pupa in the subtribe Tithoreina (thus I strongly suspect Elzunia — http://tolweb.org/Elzunia/27577).  It would be insightful to know its approximate size.
Best wishes,
Keith

Letter 34 – Clear Dagger Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject: Orange Cat
Location: Andover, NJ – backyard
September 24, 2013 7:33 am
I’m totally stumped by this one and hope you can help. It is a distinctive orange color with some yellow spots just above the face. The face is black/white and the tail has a point. It has some fine hairs, but is mostly hairless. It was making its way across a pavered walkway in our garden, apparently heading for the mulched area? Length, approximately one inch.
Signature: Deborah Bifulco

Unknown Moth Caterpillar
Clear Owlet Moth Caterpillar

Hi Deborah,
Other than figuring that this is a Moth Caterpillar, we haven’t a clue either.  We will post your photos and we hope someone will write in with a closer identification.  We cannot even provide a family at this time.

Unknown Moth Caterpillar
Clear Owlet Moth Caterpillar

Thanks for getting back to me,  Daniel.  I’ve also sent the photos to several local naturalists and so far ,  no one can identify it.  Quite a mystery.  I will drop you a note if I learn anything.

Update:  September 25, 2013
Thanks to a comment from one of our readers, we now know that this is a Clear Owlet Moth Caterpillar, Acronicta clarescens.  There are matching photos on BugGuide.

Hi again,
Just wanted to let you know that I found a local naturalist who identified this as a Clear Dagger Moth caterpillar (Acronicta clarescens).  Mystery solved…
Debbi

 

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Bumblebee Moth

 

Subject: Moth or bee?
Location: Brandon , Mississippi
September 3, 2016 4:34 pm
I tried identifying this insect and can’t find a pic of anything that looks like this. I thought it was a moth but then then it sort of looks like a bee too. Any ideas? Thank you.
Signature: Deb Pittman

Bumblebee Moth
Bumblebee Moth

Dear Deb,
Because it is a moth that mimics a bee, the Snowberry Clearwing,
Macroglossa diffinis, is commonly called a Bumblebee Moth.  According to Sphingidae of the Americas:  “Hemaris diffinis is a very variable species, but almost always the abdomen sports contrasting black and yellow hairs, the ventral surface being quite black. The legs also tend to be quite dark and there is a black mask running across the eye and along the sides of the thorax.  Adults mimic bumblebees and are quite variable, both geographically and seasonally. The wings are basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases and edges. The thorax is golden-brown to dark greenish-brown. The abdomen tends to be dark (black) with 1-2 yellow segments just before the terminal end. These yellow segments are in much sharper contrast to the rest of the abdomen than in somewhat similar species. Also note the relatively narrow dark outer margin of the hindwing. Most fresh specimens also have some blue ‘fur’ tufts highlighting the first black band on the abdomen.”

Letter 2 – Bumblebee Moth

 

Subject: found in joplin missouri
Location: joplin missouri
March 17, 2013 7:42 am
I found this bug at my house Curious of the species. It eats like a butterfly but is very bee like.
Signature: derek Allphin

Bumblebee Moth
Bumblebee Moth

Dear Derek,
This is one of the diurnal Sphinx Moths in the genus
Hemaris, and we believe it is the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth, Hemaris diffinis.  This is very early in the year for a sighting, and according to BugGuide, the earliest sighting from Missouri is April on the data page.  More information on the Bumblebee Moth can be found on the Sphingidae of the Americas website. 

Letter 3 – Heady Maiden Moth from South Africa

 

Subject: Very bright moth
Location: South Africa, Pretoria, Rosslyn
March 17, 2017 7:29 am
Hi we found this moth in Rosslyn Pretoria South Africa, it was on the 17th of March 2017, during the day time sitting on the ground. It is a very bright turquoise with bright orange stripes, blue wings with white dots. There is some pictures attached
Signature: Dawie Reyneke

Heady Maiden Moth

Dear Dawie,
We quickly identified this diurnal Tiger Moth as a Heady Maiden Moth,
Amata cerbera, thanks to images posted to iSpot, and we verified that identification with this Project Noah posting.  Many other moths in the subfamily Arctiinae are also effective wasp mimics.

Letter 4 – Another Hummingbird Clearwing

 

Was that a hummingbird?!
Location:  NE Georgia mountains
August 14, 2010 6:58 pm
At first that’s what we thought, then realized it is a bit too small (about 2-1/2 inches. But it was on our petunias and another flower, grabbing nectar like a butterfly, never stopped beating its wings. Appeared harmless enough. We are in the mountains of NE Georgia (USA), August.
bpurvis

Hummingbird Clearwing

Dear bpurvis,
We just finished posting another photo of this hummingbird impersonator.  It is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth,
Hemaris thysbe.

Correction
correction re Hummingbird Clearwing
August 14, 2010 9:50 pm
Daniel:
the photos today (Aug. 14th) that you ID’ed as Snowberry Clearwing actually appear to be Hemaris thysbe, often called a Hummingbird Clearwing.  According to BugGuide.net, the correct binomial for Snowberry Clearwing is Hemaris diffinis.
It’s the one without the combo of rust and light green.  Thanks for maintaining your site, it must be a lot of work!
regards, Dave Fallow in Madison WI

Letter 5 – Blue Dasher and Green Clearwing

 

Dragonfly pictures
Hi!
I just got a new camera and have been taking all kinds of pictures (especially of dragonflies…MY FAVORITE!) Is there anything interesting you can tell me about any of these dragonflies? I love your website, by the way!
Jaime

Blue Dasher Green Clearwing


Hi Jaime,
Your photos are great. I see you are mastering that new camera. We have identified two of your dragonflies. One is a Green Darner, Anax junius, also known as the Snake Doctor or Darning Needle. It is one of the fastest and biggest of the common dragonflies. The thorax is green and abdomen blue or sometimes gray. The compound eyes are often the color of milk chocolate. The Green Clearwing, Erythemis simplicicollis, has a bright green face and thorax with a green abdomen spotted with brown. It frequently rests on bare earth as your photo proves. We will try to identify your other dragonflies when time allows. Though we do not own this book, we have others in the series and can highly recommend it: Dragonflies Through Binoculars: A Field Guide to Dragonflies of North America (Butterflies and Others Through Binoculars Field Guide Series) by Sidney W. Dunkle

Update (01/29/2006)
odonata
Hi, my name is Larry Hamrin. While researching dragonflies, I came across your site. I don’t consider myself an expert at identifying dragonflies, but I would like to comment on some of the dragonflies on your website. The dragonfly you identify as a green darner looks like an immature Blue Dasher. By immature I mean a dragonfly after it has emerged but before it has aquired its fully adult coloration. Actually a freshly emerged dragonfly is refered to as ” teneral”, so it’s really between teneral and fully matured Here is a website with a blue dasher where the dragonfly is refered to as immature. The male will have a coloration somewhat like a female at first, then change to its normal color as it gets older.
Thank you for your time
Larry Hamrin

Letter 6 – Bumblebee Moth

 

Don’t you love it when people bug you?
July 22, 2010
Dan,
I have never seen this bug before but I am sure you have??? It
is about 1/3 longer than a bumblebee and the same color but its wings
are different and go about 1,000 times a second. The pic shows it with
a bumblebee.
These pics were taken July 17,2010o, in Lawrenceville,GA
Thanks. Have a great day,
Ferd Hall

Bumblebee Moth

Hi Ferd,
There are three moths in the genus
Hemaris that Bill Oehlke lists as ranging in Georgia, and they all look similar and we sometimes have difficulty distinguishing them from one another.  We are going to take a bit of artistic license and say that your individual is a Bumblebee Moth or Snowberry Clearwing, Hemaris diffinis, based on comparisons with the images posted to Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  We are also amused that you have a photo of the Bumblebee Moth with a Bumble Bee for comparison.

Bumble Bee and Bumblebee Moth

Letter 7 – Bumblebee Moth

 

Subject:  Bee/moth???
Geographic location of the bug:  West Kootenay,B.C ,canada
Date: 08/23/2021
Time: 09:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman, I found this fellow resting on my lilac bush. I posted a picture on facebook and a local farm page. They all say it looks like a hummingbird moth. I have seen a hummingbird moth and it didnt look like this. Your help is appreciated, thank you for your time.
How you want your letter signed: Brenda

Bumblebee Moth

Dear Brenda,
The folks who thought this was a Hummingbird Moth
Hemaris thysbe, recognized that this is a member of the same genus. Hemaris.  Your moth is Hemaris thetis.  According to Pacific Northwest Moths:  “Hemaris thetis is a medium-sized, day-flying sphinx moth (FW length 17 mm) with clear wings that resembles a bumblebee. The forewings are long and very narrow for the size of the moth and the hindwings are quite small” and “Adults fly during the day and are bumblebee mimics.  They nectar and hover in front of flowers while feeding, unlike bumblebees which land on the flower.”  There are many images on Butterflies and Moths of North America.  According to CalScape it is called a Bumblebee Moth.  As an aside, many diurnal Sphinx Moths are called Hummingbird Moths.

Bumblebee Moth
Daniel,  Thank you very much.
Brenda

 

Letter 8 – Bug of the Month July 2017: Clematis Borer

 

Subject: What kind of insect is this?
Location: Northwest Ohio, U.S.A
June 29, 2017 6:32 pm
Dear bugman,
I happened to notice this strange critter while at work today. I work at a greenhouse with flowers and vegetables. Unfortunately I could only get one picture of it before it flew away, rapidly. It has a shiny segmented body and a small, waspish head. The long orange “tail” also appeared segmented, and quite fuzzy. I have looked and found nothing like it on the internet. Please help? Thank you!
Signature: Hanna B.

Clematis Borer

Dear Hanna,
Your description of this insect as “waspish” is spot on because this is a wasp-mimicking Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae, and we eventually identified it on BugGuide as a Clematis Borer,
Alcathoe caudata.  The binomial species name is thus defined on BugGuide: “Caudata from Latin caud, meaning ‘tailed.’ Adult males have a long tail-like appendage on the abdomen. ”  Your individual is a yellow-tailed male.  We have no other images of identified male Clematis Borers on our site, but we do have several images of female Clematis BorersBugGuide also states:  “Larva bore into the roots of Clematis and Ribes species.”  According to Las Pilitas Nursery, the genus Ribes includes gooseberries and currants and Clematis is a popular flowering vine used in landscaping in Youngstown, Ohio.  It is the end of the month and we are selecting your submission as the Bug of the Month for July 2017 because we are so thrilled to now have both sexes of the Clematis Borer in our archives.

Thank you so much! I’m glad that it “bugged” me enough to ask! Happy that I have also provided a useful photo, albeit a slightly blurry one!
Hanna B.

Letter 9 – Clearwing

 

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth
No question, really – just another Hummingbird Clearwing Moth photo if you’d like to use it. Seen for the first time by several neighbors on one day in August, 2008.
Kim Gould
Aliquippa , PA

Hi Kim,
We have been getting numerous excellent images of Clearwing Moths in the genus Hemaris recently, and it is time to post a photo on our homepage. We have difficulty distinguishing the different members of the genus as there is much variability within the species as well as similarity between the species. We will copy Bill Oehlke on our reply so he can utilize your location data for his records, and also perhaps he can identify the species for us.

Letter 10 – Clearwing Butterfly

 

clear winged butterfly
This beautiful butterfly we can’t identify or find it anywhere on your website. Does it have a name? Please reply so my kids can classify. Thanks!
Ginger New Mexico

Hi Ginger,
We located a site by simply typing clearwing butterfly into google that gives this information: “Clearwing Butterfly, Oleria spp. (Family Ithomiidae) These ethereal and delicate tropical forest butterflies are often lured out of their seclusion by the chemicals found in dried Heliotropes. Their wings lack the usual dense covering of scales that give other butterflies their distinct coloration. This transparency renders these clearwing butterflies elusive as they appear and disappear in the dense forest undergrowth. After observing these butterflies, it is easy to see how numerous butterfly wings adorn the backs of fairies.”

Letter 11 – Clearwing Butterfly from Guyana is Cithaerias andromeda

 

Butterfly
Location: Guyana, Northwest Interior near Mathew’s Ridge
February 9, 2011 5:10 pm
This butterfly caught my eye in in some pristine rainforest near Matthew’s Ridge, Guyana. It was flying and resting about three feet off the ground. The wingspan was about four inches.
Signature: G. Fischer

Clearwing Butterfly is Cithaerias andromeda

Dear G. Fischer,
This lovely Clearwing Brushfooted Butterfly in the subfamily Satyrinae might be
Pseudohaeterea hypaesia based on a photo posted on TrekNature.  Your lovely individual has obviously never needed its ocula (we hope that is the correct biological name for a false eyespot) as a defense mechanism.  Research provided the proper name for a false eyespot, and it is ocellus.  We also found this little ethereal beauty on the Haeterini (must be the tribe) images website.

Update:  July 8, 2014
Thanks to a recent comment, we are able to provide links to images of Cithaerias andromeda andromeda on Butterflies of America, Tree of Life and on the Neotropical Butterflies site.

Letter 12 – Clearwing from Costa Rica

 

Subject: glass butterfly
Location: Costa Rica Tortuguero
August 8, 2014 1:44 am
can you help us with naming a glass butterfly, seen in Tortuguero Costa Rica, march 2014
Signature: fredfrombelgium

Clearwing:  Greta species
Clearwing: Greta species

Dear Fred from Belgium,
We located the Monteverde Natural History site that has a marvelous Guide to Clearwing Butterflies.  We believe your individual is in the genus
Greta, most likely Greta anette or Greta nero.  Since the former is listed as common and the latter as uncommon, we would have to favor Greta annette which is also pictured on Butterflies of America where a second “n” is included in the name.  Other internet sites spell the species name with the second “n” as Greta annette, so we are assuming that is the proper spelling.  Since we are quite busy right now, if we do not respond to your other outstanding requests, please resubmit them in a few days.

Letter 13 – Clearwing Wasp Moth

 

Ctenuchine Tiger Moth?
Dear Bug Man…
Just discovered your site. Cool! Unfortunately, I’ve just spent the last hour cruising your pages when I should be in bed! Anyway, perhaps you can help identify a moth my 12-year-old-budding-entomologist son caught on a cruise ship just outside Cancun Mexico last October… We’ve been told it is a Ctenuchine Tiger Moth, but the entomologist who told us that did not provide the genus and species. Could you please help with the taxonomy? He’s taking the moth to the Missouri State Fair this week… and I’ll bet he’s the only 4-Her to have one at the fair this year!
Thank you so much…
Scott, St. James, MO
ps I’ll have to come back and cruise your site some more with my son… when its not midnight! SA

Hi Scott,
We believe your moth is most likely from the genus Cosmosoma, Family Syntomidae or Ctenuchidae. According to Holland, these are sometimes called Clearwing Wasp Moths. Ctenucha generally have brown or black wings. Sorry we can’t give you an exact species. We only have one member of the genus Cosmosoma stateside. That is the Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma auge. We have a photo on our Moth Page. This is a large genus well represented in Central and South America. Hope that helps.

Letter 14 – Clearwing Wasp Mimic: Virginia Creeper Clearwing

 

What type of insect
Do you now what type of insect this is.
Daniel

Hi Daniel,
This is a Wasp Mimic Moth in the family Sesiidae, but we cannot tell the species.

Ed. Note:
January 17, 2009
Thanks to taftw who just posted a comment, we now know that this is Albuna fraxini, the Virginia Creeper Clearwing.  The species is well represented on BugGuide.

Letter 15 – Clearwing Moth is Rhododendron Borer

 

Subject: Unidentified
Location: Northeast, OH
June 20, 2012 1:06 am
We found this beauty in our front yard and have been trying to identify it. We would love to know how to tag it in our family nature journal.
Signature: Thanks, Melissa

Clearwing Moth

Hi Melissa,
The best we can do right now is a family identification.  This is a Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae, a group that includes many mimics of wasps and bees.  You can search BugGuide to try to determine the species identity.

Update:  November 17, 2012
Thanks to a comment we just received, we now know that this is a Rhododendron Borer, Synanthedon rhododendri .  Alas, BugGuide has not photos in their guide for comparison, and there is but one image of a mounted specimen available on Bugguide, but it does appear to match.  There is also an image of a mounted specimen on the Moth Photographers Group.  Though there are no photos of the moth, there are photos of the damage caused by the Rhododendron Borer on Gardenphile.  Finally, Penn State University has a very comprehensive posting with a nice entomological drawing.  Seems What’s That Bug? might have one of the only photos of a living specimen available online.

Letter 16 – Clearwing Moth

 

Subject: strange abdomen or ovipositor? wasp?
Location: Tinley Park, IL, USA
July 21, 2012 12:19 pm
Hello!
Was wondering what sort of insect this may be? Wings had a slightly yellow tinge and abdomen had an unusual end that pointed back towards the head.
Was hanging out on a screen that led to my balcony. Was able to shoot it’s underside, but it’s back was hard to capture because of the sky backlighting. It looked like it had little yellow ”shoulder straps” that are faintly visible in the photo. Head to abdomen was just under an inch long.
Was shot around 2pm on July 14, 2012.
Signature: KippyQ

Clearwing Moth

Dear KippyQ,
This is one of the Clearwing Moths in the family Sesiidae, a group that contains many wasp mimic members.  We believe we might have correctly identified your Clearwing Moth as
Synanthedon fatifera based on this BugGuide photo, though there are many similar looking members in the genus Synanthedon.

Letter 17 – Clearwing Moth

 

Clearwing Moth
Clearwing Moth

Subject: Unknown Wasp
Location: Brazoria County, Tx
October 14, 2014 10:03 pm
I took this photo on Oct. 13, 2014 while birding at San Bernard Wildlife Rufuge near Lake Jackson, TX on the Texas Gulf Coast. It was on a plant in a butter fly garden. Can you identify it for me?
Signature: Joe & Jane

Dear Joe & Jane,
Though it is a very effective wasp mimic, this is actually a Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae which has many members that benefit from looking and acting like wasps.  We need to rush off right now, so we can’t take the time to research the species, but you can try browsing the family on BugGuide to see if you can find a match.  Please let us know if you find something close.

Letter 18 – Clearwing Moth

 

Subject: Wasp like moth
Location: Plano Tx, north of Dallas
July 17, 2016 12:40 pm
I’m sure this is a moth, but wondering what kind. I found it motionless in some ivy treebine.
Signature: Steve

Clearwing Moth: Vitacea admiranda
Clearwing Moth: Vitacea admiranda

Dear Steve,
Your suspicions that this is a moth are correct.  It is one of the wasp-mimic Clearwing Moths in the family Sesiidae.  We believe we have correctly identified it as
Vitacea admiranda thanks to images posted to BugGuide where it states:  “Adult – resembles Polistes paper wasps” and “Larval hosts are likely grapes (Vitaceae). Knudson & Bordelon observed the adults in association with mustang grape (Vitis mustangensis).”  BugGuide also indicates:  “This species was practically unknown before synthetic pheromones, only three specimens in major collections for the first 100 years. It is now known throughout Texas, and is exquisitely sensitive to pheromone residues on skin or clothing.”  We verified that identification on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Fauna Project.

Thank you Daniel, this is great information, I really do appreciate it.

Letter 19 – Clearwing Moth: Carmenta giliae

 

Subject: Clearwing Moth + Hover Fly
Location: Central MT mountains
July 28, 2016 8:33 pm
Took this photo today in the Highwood Mountains east of Great Falls, MT at Showdown Ski Area.
It is similar to the Rhododendron borer, but there aren’t any rhododendrons in this area.
Also, 2nd picture is of a mimic, hover fly, but that is all I know. Can you identify?
Signature: Renee

Clearwing Moth: Carmenta giliae
Clearwing Moth: Carmenta giliae

Dear Renee,
We are relatively confident we have identified your Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae as
Carmenta giliae based on images posted to the Moth Photographers Group.  We double checked that with BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, the habitat is “Mid to high elevation montane meadows” and “Larvae bore in the roots of wild geranium (Geranium, Geraniaceae). Adults take nectar from a variety of flowers.”  We will attempt to identify your Hover Fly in a distinct posting.

Letter 20 – Clearwing Moth: Euhagena nebraskae

 

Euhagena
September 27, 2009
Hi Lisa Anne and Daniel, over the past two weeks I have sporadically been observing a group of these Euhagena nebraskae. The area I’m seeing them is well-known to me and little or none of their reported larval food (Oenothera) grows there. I did follow a female who I believe was ovipositing and collected what may be her egg from an Helianthus she tapped her abdomen against. Am just wondering if any of your readers have had similar observations.
Thanks,
Dwaine
near Casper, WY

Euhagena nebraskae
Euhagena nebraskae

Hi Dwaine,
We can always count on you to provide our website with excellent photos of underrepresented species.  This Clearwing Moth has larvae that are root borers in plants belonging to the primrose family as you have indicated.  Often the larval food plant information posted online is incomplete, and it is possible the Euhagena nebraskae uses plants in the sunflower family when primrose is not available.  We will post your letter and awesome images in the hope that our readership can elaborate on your observations.

Euhagena nebraskae
Euhagena nebraskae

How fortuitous that you were also able to photograph the sexually dimorphic male of the species.  Are you able to clarify that our posting is correct?

Euhagena nebraskae male
Euhagena nebraskae male

Letter 21 – Clearwing Moth might be Female American Hornet Moth

 

Subject:  Bee??
Geographic location of the bug:  Sw washington
Date: 07/10/2020
Time: 01:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What the heck is this?
How you want your letter signed:  Rochelle

Clearwing Moth

Dear Rochelle,
This is not a Bee, but your mistake is understandable.  This is actually a Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae, and many members of the family are very effective Wasp mimics.  We believe this might be an American Hornet Moth which is pictured on BugGuide, and the long ovipositor indicates this is a female.

Letter 22 – Clearwing Satyr Butterfly from Ecuador: Amber Phantom

 

clear winged butterfly from Ecuador
Hi Bugman,
I photographed this beautiful butterfly in the rainforest of eastern Ecuador, near the north bank of the Rio Napo, on Feb 23, 2007. I haven’t been able to identify it. Can you tell me what species it is? We’d love to be able to put a species name and common name with the photo on the web site. Thanks,
Stephanie Donaldson

Hi Stephanie,
Identifying tropical insects is often very difficult for us since there is not as much information available online or in text books as there is for North American or European species. We will post your image and try to identify it in the future. Additionally, many times our readers provide us with answers for unidentified species. Many Clearwing Butterflies, also known as Glasswings, are in the subfamily Heliconiinae, a division of the Nymphalidae.

Update: (04/30/2007)
We had a commitment today to supervise a computer lab. While the students worked, we whiled away the hours doing some web research. We did not positively identify this species, but we are nearly certain this is a Clearwing Satyr in the genus Cithaerias.

Update:  January 5, 2015
We just received a comment indicating that this is
Haetera piera.  We browsed that name and found several images from the same genus on Ecuador Butterfly Photos.  Butterflies of Amazonia provides this information:  “The tribe Haeterini is confined exclusively to the neotropical region. All members of this tribe are elusive crepuscular butterflies which spend their lives skulking deep in the undergrowth. There are 5 genera – Pierella, Pseudohaetera, Cithaerias, Dulcedo and Haetera. All butterflies in the latter 4 genera have rounded transparent wings, with small ocelli at the apex of the hindwings.  The genus Haetera comprises of 2 species – macleannania and piera. Both are extremely similar, but macleannania has a reddish flush on the hindwings, while in piera this is amber in colour.  Haetera macleannania is found from Costa Rica to Colombia, and is replaced further south by piera which is found in Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

Letter 23 – Clearwing Sesiid Moth from Poland

 

Subject: Mysterious bug
Location: Warsaw, Poland
June 14, 2015 1:18 pm
I found this insect, and it looked really cool. I tried searching for what it could be, but I couldn’t find anything! Do you know what this bug could be??
Signature: Jan Szenk

Clearwing Moth
Clearwing Moth

Dear Jan,
This is a wasp-mimic Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae, and we will attempt to supply you with a species name.

Letter 24 – Clearwing Wasp Mimic: Douglas Fir Pitch Moth

 

wasp mimic
Hi –
I love your website! What a great idea – we get info, you get distribution and emergence data. I found this “wasp” on the kitchen table this morning, in Port Townsend, WA – on the Olympic peninsula. It didn’t seem quite right, because it was inactive, and lacked the wasp waist, and there was something about its antennae that said “Lep” – sure enough, when I looked at it with my loupe, scales on the edges of the wings, scales on the body. I left my Covell moth field guide back east – do you know which species this is? Curious that so many of your “wierd bugs” are moths – they sure have a wide range of disguises. Anyway, thanks and keep up the good work-
Nancy Lowe
Port Townsend, WA

Hi Nancy,
You are correct about this being one of the Wasp Mimics in the family Sesiidae, but we are not prepared at this time to identify the species or genus. We need to do additional research and hope someone can come to our assistance.

Ed. Note
January 17, 2009
Thanks to taftw who placed a comment, we now know that this is a Douglas Fir Pitch Moth, Synanthedon novaroensis
.

Letter 25 – Grasshopper: Dissosteira spurcata

 

CAMNULA PELLUCIDA
July 28, 2009
Caught this guy today and he was quite a sight to see flying just a buzz of white I think this is a Camnula pellucida and it does have clear wings. Caught in Washington State in Okanogan which is just southof the Canadian border.
The message is ready to be sent with the following file or link attachments:
Ernie
Okanogan, Washington

Clearwinged Grasshopper???
Clearwinged Grasshopper???

Hi Ernie,
We aren’t totally convince that this is a Clearwinged Grasshopper, Camnula pellucida based on images posted to BugGuide.  We will post your image and continue to research, and perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide an answer.
Since you are not submitting your requests using our website form, it is creating additional work for us on the posting end.

Update from Eric Eaton
Hi, Daniel:
I became intrigued by the image of the “clearwinged grasshopper,” and was likewise suspicious that it was something else.  I think I have found the answer.  I believe it is a specimen of Dissosteira spurcata, and the Okanagan would be about the northern limit of its range, if not a slight range extension.  Very nice find.  We could use more images over at Bugguide, and one of the grasshopper experts there might take great interest in this given the location.  Thanks.
Eric

Update from Ernie
Clear Wing Grasshoper
July 29, 2009
Clear wing grasshopper with its wing spread. There is some black on the wings. Camnula pellucida.
Ernie
Okanogan, Washington

Band Winged Grasshopper
Band Winged Grasshopper

Hi again Ernie,
Eric Eaton believes this is Dissosteira spurcata, a Band Winged Grasshopper in the subfamily Oedipodinae with no common name.  Eric has also requested that you post your images to BugGuide where experts can weigh in.  We also have a suggestion for you.  We believe you should only be using post production software like photoshop to crop, color correct, and adjust contrast, and not to clone in backgrounds.  While the blurry grass background on your images might be more aesthetically pleasing, you might be eliminating crucial details that would assist in identification.

Letter 26 – Common Clearwing

 

Hummingbird Moth — Hanover, MD
This moth was visiting my garden yesterday and I am trying to confirm what kind it is. I really like your website, and I think that my moth is in the clearwing family, but didn’t see any pictures that looked like mine. The wings never stopped moving, and he flitted around just like a hummingbird.
Thanks, Susan Schmaltz

Hi Susan,
Nice photo of a Hummingbird Moth or Common Clearwing, Hemaris thysbe.

Letter 27 – Clematis Borer

 

Subject: Synanthedon exitiosa?
Location: Nashville, TN
September 16, 2012 8:56 pm
We think this a type of borer. The closest our bug guide has is a Peach Tree Borer; Synanthedon exitiosa. It’s not a perfect match. Can you help us identify this bug?
Signature: Jennifer

Clematis Borer

Dear Jennifer,
Though your species identification is incorrect, we are impressed that you came so close with this difficult identification.  You are correct that this is a Borer in the Clearwing Moth family Sesiidae, a group known for excellent mimicry of wasps.  They are often called Wasp Moths.  This is a Clematis Borer,
Alcathoe carolinensis, and we identified it on BugGuide.  The Clematis Borer and the Peach Tree Borer are both in the same tribe, Synanthedonini, so they are very closely related, hence they share similar physical attributes.

Letter 28 – Clematis Borer

 

Subject: Small blue insect
Location: Memphis, TN
September 10, 2014 12:15 pm
I saw this fellow flying in my yard this morning. I don’t recall ever seeing one before. I reckon it was about an inch long. Any idea what this is?
Signature: William Cooper

Clematis Borer
Clematis Borer

Hi William,
Even though your insect has black wings, it is a member of the moth family Sesiidae, commonly called the Clearwings.  The members of the family Sesiidae are wasp mimics, and even though they cannot sting, they derive protection from their protective coloration and markings.  We first found a similar looking individual on the Moth Photographers Group that is identified as
Alcathoe caudata, the Clematis Clearwing Moth, and upon checking Bugguide we found a good match with Alcathoe carolinensis which is called the Clematis Borer.  The moths in the family Sesiidae have larvae that bore in woody plants, sometimes causing considerable damage, though the Clematis Borer might be unjustly tagged with an unfitting common name based on this BugGuide statement:  “Although other Alcathoe use species of Clematis (Ranunculaceae) as larval hosts, earlier reports of carolinensis on this host have been called into question and no Clematis species were found within 160 meters of the Tennessee collection site.” No larval host and no common name are included in the Butterflies and Moths of North America site.

That makes sense — the photo that I sent actually shows the insect on a clematis leaf!
Thanks!!  I enjoy the site.

Letter 29 – Currant Clearwing Borer

 

Subject: Unknown Moth
Location: Tacoma, Washington USA
June 8, 2017 6:05 am
Found this moth hanging around a black currant. Pictures don’t really show it, but at a distance of a couple feet, the moth is really difficult to see flying, and even harder to see on the currant branch. Saw it flying in the same area three times during the day. Only saw it land only once. Got the pictures then. Body is 13-15 mm. I didn’t notice the insect shell it is standing on until I looked at the pictures. Don’t know if they’re related.
Signature: Ralph

Currant Clearwing Borer

Dear Ralph,
This is one of the Clearwing Borer Moths in the family Sesiidae, a group with many members that are excellent wasp mimics.  Thanks so much for supplying the name of the host plant because we were able to quickly identify your Currant Clearwing Borer,
Synanthedon tipuliformis, thanks to images on BugGuide where it states:  “Larvae bore in the canes and branches of species of currants and gooseberries (Ribes, Saxifragaceae) and to a lesser extent blackberries (Rubus, Rosaceae). “

Currant Clearwing Borer

Letter 30 – Green Clearwing

 

Another Pondhawk
What I did not realise with these insects is that their heads can move left or right quite a distance. I always thought that their heads were fixed.
Mark

Hi again Mark,
We are amused by your name Pondhawk. It is quite appropriate. We also like Devil’s Darning Needle and Caballo del Diablo as common names for Dragonflies. We believe this to be a Green Clearwing, Erythemis simplicicollis. The color description according to Audubon is “Face and thorax bright green, top of head darker. Abdomen green, spotted with dark brown on top segments 3-10, spots progressively larger toward tip; tip yellow in male. Legs black with long black spines on tibiaw. … Wings clear.”

The Audubon field guide to Florida refers to Erythemis simplicicollis as the Eastern Pondhawk. Must be the colloquial term for it in Florida. Erythemis vesiculosa is refered to as the Great Pondhawk. Thanks again
Mark

Letter 31 – Green Clearwing

 

Dear Bugman :o)
I just found your site yesterday and spent a few hours looking at all of the amazing bugs that you have listed there. I noticed a section for dragonflies and thought you might be interested in a picture of another variety. I live in Florida, and find these guys around my yard. I have some other bug photos around here somewhere (there’s a lot of neat bugs here in Florida) and I will send them if I see that you do not already have photos to represent them.
Thanks for the great site, it’s listed in my favorites under the "~~~Way Cool!" folder.
Have a great day!
Maddy

Hi Maddy,
We are honored to be in your Way Cool folder. If you try to visit over the next few weeks, you will find us shut down due to heavy traffic. We will return in September. The beginning of the month is the best time to log on. We are posting your photo of a Green Clearwing, Erythemis simpliciollis. It is common in the South. The green and brown striped abdomen is distinctive.

Letter 32 – Fireweed Borer

 

Hi –
What a great site, funny and very informative! I think this is a clearwing moth – I took the photo over Labor Day weekend at about 10,000 feet in the Eastern Sierra. What is it? Thanks,
Allison

Hi Allison,
We are so thrilled you appreciate our humor. We just posted a letter from an irate reader who called us rude. This is definitely one of the Wasp Mimicing Clearwing Moths in the Family Sesiidae, but the species is unknown to us.

Update:
January 19, 2009
We just approved a comment that identified this as a Fireweed Borer, Albuna pyramidalis.

Letter 33 – Clearwing Chrysalis from Peru

 

metallic chrysalis
Location: Libertad, Peru, north coast
April 10, 2012 11:35 pm
I found this chrysalis in northern Peru April 7th 2012 on the west slope of the Andes. I thought at first it was a candy wrapper caught in the tree as it was completely gold but as you can see when I used the flash it came out completely different.
Signature: steve

Unknown Chrysalis

Dear Steve,
This is surely a lovely Chrysalis.  We will contact Keith Wolfe who frequently assists us with butterfly caterpillars and chrysalids to see if he can provide an identification.

Keith Wolfe Responds
Hello Steve and Daniel,
Sorry for the tardy reply.  This is a Clearwing (Nymphalidae, Danainae, Ithomiini) pupa in the subtribe Tithoreina (thus I strongly suspect Elzunia — http://tolweb.org/Elzunia/27577).  It would be insightful to know its approximate size.
Best wishes,
Keith

Letter 34 – Clear Dagger Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject: Orange Cat
Location: Andover, NJ – backyard
September 24, 2013 7:33 am
I’m totally stumped by this one and hope you can help. It is a distinctive orange color with some yellow spots just above the face. The face is black/white and the tail has a point. It has some fine hairs, but is mostly hairless. It was making its way across a pavered walkway in our garden, apparently heading for the mulched area? Length, approximately one inch.
Signature: Deborah Bifulco

Unknown Moth Caterpillar
Clear Owlet Moth Caterpillar

Hi Deborah,
Other than figuring that this is a Moth Caterpillar, we haven’t a clue either.  We will post your photos and we hope someone will write in with a closer identification.  We cannot even provide a family at this time.

Unknown Moth Caterpillar
Clear Owlet Moth Caterpillar

Thanks for getting back to me,  Daniel.  I’ve also sent the photos to several local naturalists and so far ,  no one can identify it.  Quite a mystery.  I will drop you a note if I learn anything.

Update:  September 25, 2013
Thanks to a comment from one of our readers, we now know that this is a Clear Owlet Moth Caterpillar, Acronicta clarescens.  There are matching photos on BugGuide.

Hi again,
Just wanted to let you know that I found a local naturalist who identified this as a Clear Dagger Moth caterpillar (Acronicta clarescens).  Mystery solved…
Debbi

 

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts
Tags: Clearwing Moth

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31 Comments. Leave new

  • What beautiful photos of this delicate little moth.

    Reply
  • you know,
    we were just asking for a name for classification so next time do the world a favor and dont be rude and tell us how to use google, just tell us the name, if we wanted to know by using google we would’ve used it OK?
    Shiloh Spint, the oldest daughter.

    Reply
    • We could not for the life of us recall ever making a rude comment to a request for a Clearwing Butterfly identification. We searched the original posting from 2006, and still had trouble finding rudeness in the response since an identification was made and a response was given. Since our benign response elicited this chastisement after three years, we cannot just let this pass. If you thought that response was rude, Shiloh eldest daughter, you had better sequester yourself away from the world and stay off the internet since you will have a difficult time when you encounter real rudeness.

      Reply
  • Bugman,
    Im really sorry for the outburst i really am but my mom was a little upset after searching and searching for the species just for you to say that you googled it,
    you guys really do good work and we love ya’lls website but i guess it was just the way it sounded from our perspective.
    sorry again,
    Shiloh

    Reply
    • Hi Shilo,
      Thanks for the explanation, but that inquiry was over 3 1/2 years old. Whenever we post something to the website, we also email the person who inquired directly. Sometimes because of blocked accounts, our responses do not arrive. Did your mother receive the original response thee and a half years ago? The answer also included the genus name and a link to more information.

      Reply
  • This is Synanthedon novaroensis. The common name is the Douglas Fir Pitch Moth. It has been recorded attacking various species of spruce and pine. This moth is found from Alaska to California and east to Montana.

    Reply
  • This is Albuna fraxini. The larvae feed on Virginia creeper.

    Reply
  • This is Albuna pyramidalis, the fireweed borer.

    Reply
  • Hi, Ferd!

    I just saw these for the first time this summer, once on a flower I was trying to put in the car at the garden center, and the little guy didn’t want to leave it alone :). I finally got away with flower, sans bug. However, I’ve now seen these visiting my own flower garden on several occasions.

    I’m glad I’ve now got photo confirmation (your photo is exactly the species I’ve seen), because when I tried to describe this critter to a friend, he asked what I’d been smoking! 😀

    Reply
  • Dear G Fischer and webmaster,
    No, this is not Pseudohaetera hypaesia (that has much bolder and brown rather than black submarginal hindwing markings). It is a species of Cithaerias, probably Cithaerias andromeda, also known as C. philis.
    Peter Bruce-Jones

    Reply
  • Many of the quality references I use for butterflies are books and not web-based. However, for Cithaerias philis see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/83287919@N00/3639415743/, and for both another form of C. andromeda and Pseudohaetera hypaesia go to http://www.neotropicalbutterflies.com/Site Revision/Pages/FamilyLists/NymphalidSubFamilyListBN/Satyrinae_Satyrs.html#haeterini. I hope this helps.
    Best regards,
    Peter

    Reply
  • This is the rhododendron borer – Synanthedon rhododendri.

    Reply
  • Just spotted on of these here in NH on July 27 2013. I thought it was a bumblebee that was dead then I realized it was a moth and was feed on the flowers. Pretty cool this moth look like a bumblebee.

    Reply
  • We just spotted one here in Ash Grove Missouri.

    Reply
  • Looks like Acronicta clarescens to me.

    Reply
  • It is Cithaerias andromeda andromeda

    Reply
  • Luis Miguel Constantino
    January 5, 2015 12:05 pm

    The butterfly from Eeastern Ecuador is a female of Haetera piera (Nymphalidae: Satyrinae)

    Reply
  • Beautiful

    Reply
  • Bryan Williams
    July 8, 2015 11:58 am

    Spotted this species at the Bristol-Myers Squibb manufacturing plant in Mt. Vernon, Indiana on July 7, 2015

    Reply
  • Thought the cicadia wasp I saw two years ago (thought we had been invaded by killer wasps from Japan) or the Texas Toe Pincher invasion we saw 5 years ago was wild but this little bumblebee moth had me starring for a good 20 minutes to figure out it wasn’t a local bumble bee but a moth in disquise. Too Cool !! Aren’t bugs great!!

    Reply
  • Rebecca McMannis
    September 4, 2017 12:16 pm

    we just got a video of one on my phone in my flowerbed sanctuary. We had no idea if this was a hummingbird/bee/insect, so we took a good quality close up video of it. We are in Stockport, Ohio

    Reply
  • It’s a amata mogadorensis I breed them lovely little species

    Regards Steve

    Reply
  • It’s a amata mogadorensis I breed them lovely little species

    Regards Steve

    Reply
  • Laurie Del Vecchio
    June 30, 2020 2:43 pm

    I just observed one of these moths on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, in Northern California. I have never seen one before in these parts.

    Reply

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