Edwards Glassy Wing: Comprehensive Guide for Enthusiasts

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The Edwards Glassy Wing, also known as the Glassy-winged Sharpshooter (GWSS), is an invasive insect that poses a significant risk to various plant species. Originally native to the southeastern United States and northeastern Mexico, it was accidentally introduced to California in the late 1980s, most likely through egg masses on ornamental or agricultural plant foliage source.

This pest feeds on the xylem fluid of a large number of plants and has a wide host range, including citrus plants source. Due to its feeding habits and reproduction capabilities, GWSS has been causing significant damage to vineyards and other agricultural crops by spreading Pierce’s disease. As a result, a statewide management program was implemented in California to counter the threat posed by GWSS and the bacterial diseases it transmits source.

Edwards Glassy Wing Overview

Species Identification

The Edwards Glassy Wing is a species of moth known by the scientific names Hemihyalea edwardsii and Pseudohemihyalea edwardsii. This beautiful creature falls under the Lepidoptera order, just like butterflies.

Taxonomy and Classification

The Edwards Glassy Wing is a type of tiger moth that belongs to the Lepidoptera order, making it a relative of both moths and butterflies. It is classified within the Erebidae family and Arctiinae subfamily.

Moths Vs Butterflies

Feature Moths Butterflies
Antennae Feather-like or filiform Club-shaped
Resting Position of Wings Spread out Upright, vertically folded

It’s important to note that there are some exceptions to these rules, but this table provides a general distinction between moths and butterflies.

Distinct Features

  • Bold colors: The Edwards Glassy Wing is characterized by its striking red and black color pattern.
  • Presence of scales: This moth has opaque, glass-like scales, which inspired its name “Glassy Wing.”
  • Unique wing shape: Edwards’ Glassy Wing moths have a distinguished wing shape, differentiating them from other species in the Pseudohemihyalea genus.

These characteristics make the Edwards Glassy Wing easy to identify and set it apart from other moth species. They can often be spotted near oak trees, which serve as a host for their larval stage.

Distribution and Habitat

Regions and Areas

The Edwards Glassy Wing is a butterfly species found primarily in the following regions:

  • United States: California and New Mexico
  • Mexico: Various parts throughout the country
  • Canada: Rare occurrences in some southern regions

Habitat Preferences

The Edwards Glassy Wing typically prefers specific habitats, which include:

  • Open woodlands
  • Grassy hillsides
  • Chaparral environments

In summary:

United States

  • California and New Mexico: Open woodlands, grassy hillsides, and chaparral


  • Widespread: Open woodlands, grassy hillsides, and chaparral


  • Southern regions: Rare occurrences in suitable habitats

The distribution of Edwards Glassy Wing showcases the species’ tendency to thrive in a variety of habitats across North America.

Life Cycle and Behavior

Larval Stage

Edwards Glassy Wing is a moth from the tiger moth family. The larvae of this species are known for their unique appearance. Some features of the larval stage include:

  • Bright color patterns
  • Distinct hair or fuzz on the body

These characteristics help the larvae ward off predators, as they give the appearance of being unpalatable or toxic.

Adult Moth Characteristics

The adult Edwards Glassy Wing moth exhibits intriguing traits:

  • Display: They engage in an attractive wing display, earning them the name “glassy wing.”
  • Entomologist interest: Their peculiar features have made them a subject of interest among entomologists.

These features contribute to the moths’ unique reputation in the world of insects.

Feature Larvae Adult Moth
Color Patterns Bright Muted
Hair/Fuzz Present Absent
Display Not prominent Glassy wing

Reproduction and Mating

In terms of reproduction and mating, the Edwards Glassy Wing moth follows a standard life cycle pattern:

  1. Mating: Adult moths engage in a mating ritual that may involve wing displays and pheromones.
  2. Eggs: Female moths lay eggs on appropriate host plants.
  3. Larvae: The eggs hatch, producing larvae that feed on the host plant and eventually pupate.
  4. Adult Moths: The pupae metamorphose into adult moths, starting the cycle anew.

The specific behaviors and strategies of the Edwards Glassy Wing moth during mating and reproduction have yet to be fully understood, warranting further study by entomologists.

Conservation and Threats

Species Status

The Edwards Glassy Wing is a rare and unique species. Due to its limited distribution, it faces numerous risks and challenges in the wild. Naturalists value its existence as a symbol of our diverse natural world.

Human Impact

Unfortunately, human activities, such as habitat destruction and pollution, have put the Edwards Glassy Wing under significant pressure. As a result, it is more critical than ever to implement conservation measures to protect this unique species.

Identifying and Observing

Tips for Identifying

Identifying the Edwards’ Glassy-Wing moth can be quite straightforward if you are aware of some key features:

  • Wings: Transparent with a brownish-yellow fringe
  • Body: Pinkish-brown or yellow-brown color
  • Size: Small, measuring an average of 1 cm in length

To identify this moth, start by observing the coloration and patterns on its wings and body. Comparing them to photographs or guides can be helpful. For instance, an excellent resource is the BugGuide site, which provides images, descriptions, and expert advice.

Resources and Guides

Gathering information is crucial when trying to understand and identify the Edwards’ Glassy-Wing and similar species. Some useful resources include:

  • Clickable Guide: A helpful feature on some websites, where images of different moth and butterfly species are organized in an interactive grid, allowing for easy comparison.
  • Expert Professional Advice: Reach out to professionals like entomologists at your local extension office for personalized guidance and information.
  • Authoritative Books: Look for books written by experts in the field that focus on moths, butterflies, or the family of Edwards’ Glassy-Wing.

Comparison Table:

Feature Edwards’ Glassy-Wing Similar Species
Wings Transparent, brownish-yellow fringe Can be opaque, different fringe colors
Body Pinkish-brown or yellow-brown Varied colors and patterns

In conclusion, accurately identifying the Edwards’ Glassy-Wing moth involves careful observation, consulting resources, and seeking expert advice. By using these recommended tools and methods, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a moth identification pro.

Disclaimer and Acknowledgements

Accuracy of Information

While we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided, we cannot guarantee its completeness or correctness. We kindly ask our readers to conduct further research and consult experts on Edwards Glassy Wing if necessary.

  • Pros: Provides valuable information
  • Cons: May not cover all aspects

Content Licensing and Credits

We have taken special care to use information from reputable sources and to credit them appropriately:

Please note that the content may be subject to licensing restrictions and copyright laws.

Comparison Table

Feature Edwards Glassy Wing Other Species
Habitat Forests Varies
Wingspan 10cm 5-20cm
Diet Nectar Various


  • Transparent wings
  • Unique flight patterns
  • Attraction to certain flowers

Remember, our goal is to provide helpful and accurate information, but we encourage further investigation and verification.

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 – Edward's Glassy-wing


Unknown Moth
I hope you might be able to help us… My son has an insect collection which he is preparing to display at the local County Fair. He has a beautiful moth which we have been unable to identify; we haven’t seen anything like it in any book or online. The closest appears to be perhaps a hawkmoth of some kind. The body is 2 1/2 cm long and the wing length is 3 cm. His body is red with a tufted tip and the wings are mostly clear. My son needs to know the name of it and the Family, and if possible, needs to know by July 10th (Sorry for the short notice…. We tried a few days ago and got a failure notice.)
Thanks so much. (We had several of them at night at our house (in Glen Ellen, CA) over a span of a couple of weeks in October, 2003.)

Hi Loralee,
We already have a photo of Edward’s Glassy-wing, Hemihyalea edwardsi, on our butterfly and moth page. The image was sent in last December by Jeffrey in Sacramento. There isn’t much written about this moth. It is a California species and is a member of the Tiger Moth family Arctiidae. It has a close relative that lives in Colorado, Hemihyalea labecula. The chief difference between the two moths is that Edward’s Glassy-wing has pink to crimson margins on the secondary wings.

Thank you so much for a personal and PROMPT reply!! I really doubted we’d find out before his display was due! He’ll be thrilled!! (By the way, he’s only 8, but he LOVES insects, and wants to be an Entomologist when he grows up…)

Letter 2 – Edward's Glassy-Wing


What type of moth is this?
July 7, 2010
On July 7th this moth flew into my room at night and buzzed around for a bit landing in several places, I was able to get some decent pictures of it since it seemed to buzz around for a few minutes wearing itself out then rest for a while. It was about an inch to an inch and a half long with bright red markings and black and white striped legs with an abdomen patterned similar to that of a bees. It eventually landed on a magazine and I was able to flick it out the window, about 30 minutes later it flew back in and landed on the same magazine and I flicked it out the window. I spent a bit over 30 minutes looking to try and find it on this site http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/map?si=5&x=120&y=130 I wasn’t able to. So I thought I’d ask you, got any idea what t his is? I’ve never seen one before and a lot of moths fly into my room the windows are always open at night.
Paul V.
Pacific Grove, California.

Edward's Glassy-Wing

Hi Paul,
Your moth is a Tiger Moth,
Pseudohemihyalea edwardsii, which goes by the much more easily pronounced common name Edward’s Glassy-Wing.  We confirmed our identification on BugGuide.  It is also pictured on the Butterflies and Moths of North America website you searched to no avail.

Letter 3 – Edward's Glassy-Wing


what kind of moth is this?
Location: San Jose, CA, USA
August 16, 2011 2:38 pm
Kids found a dark brown, fuzzy caterpillar at the park, and fed it oak leaves. This is what it turned into.
Signature: Catherine

Edward's Glassy-Wing

Hi Catherine,
We would really love for you to send us a photo of the caterpillar as well.  This is Edward’s Glassy-Wing, Hemihyalea edwardsi, and we believe this is the first example we have of a living specimen.  This California species is a Tiger Moth, and you can see additional images on BugGuide.

Letter 4 – Edward's Glassy Wing


We would like to know what kind of moth this is?? It was found in california in the San Andreas which is 1  1/2 hours SE from Sacramento.
Thank You

Dear Jeffrey,
You have a species of Arctiidae (Tiger Moths) known as the Edwards’ Glassy-wing, Hemihyalea edwardsi. It is a California species. Sorry I can’t give you any additional information since I can’t locate anything online other than photos and there isn’t much written in the books I have.

Thank you for identifing my moth. That helped allot.

Thank you Jeffrey, for sending the great photo of you pinning your collection.

Letter 5 – Edwards' Glassy-Wing currently flying in California


Subject: Edwards Glassy-Winged Moth
Location: Petaluma, CA
October 16, 2012 3:01 am
Thanks Whatsthatbug! I love your website and have used it frequently to help me identify. I believe the first time I used it was after a recent move to California I needed to identify the ridiculous Potato Bug or Jeruselum Cricket! Tonight I had 6 large pink bodied moths outside and quickly found between your site and a couple others that my visitors were Edwards Glassy Winged Moths. It is October 15, 2012. I saw the first one about a week and half ago, then tonight there were six. www.insectidentification.org stated that ’They are most active in autumn and caterpillars feed on oak trees’, which is fitting since I live under a live oak corridor in Petaluma California. Unfortunately tonight, one also succumbed to my large resident Cross Orb-Weaver Spider, however, also unfortunately it was too high up to get a decent picture. I couldn’t figure out a way to post this additional information that I found so I decided to submit an ask form in hopes that you could post this info for others.
I also learned from http://nathistoc.bio.uci.edu/lepidopt/Noctuidae/Hemihyalea%20edwardsii.htm, which references Powell, J.A. & P.A. Opler. 2009. Moths of Western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. Page 273, plate 48.23. that,
Edwards’ Glassywing
Hemihyalea edwardsii
Lepidoptera: Noctuidae
Our largest tiger moth, each forewing with a span of 2.6-2.9 cm. It is known from western Oregon to southern California and the Channel Islands, east to Arizona, New Mexico, south into Mexico. The wings are lightly scaled with tan, especially the tips, making them translucent (thus the name glassywing). Older adults are often missing most of the scales and the wing tips become ragged. The head and thorax are clothed in fine tan hairs, the abdomen bright red-orange (easily seen through the translucent wings). They fly in a single brood from August to October, both sexes attracted to light (white, black [=UV], and mercury vapor). Eggs are laid on oaks, primarily coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia in our area). The caterpillars are brown-black with long hairs. Pupation takes place on or near the oak tree host, in a loose cocoon that includes hair from the caterpillar (as in many other tiger moths).

Edwards’ Glassy-Wing

Hi Annie,
Thank you for supplying our readers with such a thoroughly researched posting of Edward’s Glassy-Wing.  We suspect the recent rain and subsequent warming trend is responsible for the eclosion that you were lucky enough to witness.  Our own local Southern California Tiger Moth, the Painted Tiger Moth, made its first appearance at our garage light last evening.

Edward’s Glassy-Wing


Signature: Annie Schultz


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