Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Seen with honeybees
July 20, 2009
Hi, I spotted an unfamiliar insect in my privet hedge. These insects are approx 2cm in length. They have a hovering habit. They can be seen to unfurl a longish (1cm +) tongue into the tiny privet blossoms. My property is in a semi-rural setting surrounded by a greenbelt of mixed forest (spruce/balsam fir assorted hardwoods).
I have a new found respect for anyone who shoots bugs on the wing — these are the best of about 300 photos taken over 3 days! (Photos taken 20 July 2009)
Ian in Nova Scotia
Saint Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia approx 44deg 6min north latitude

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth
Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Hi Ian,
This is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, Hemaris thysbe.  On his excellent website, Bill Oehlke writes:  “Hemaris thysbe, the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth or Common Clearwing (wingspan 38-50 mm), readily visits flowers by day throughout the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada, where it ranges far to the north, even into the Yukon. Ken Philip reports them in Alaska: Interior Alaska: Fairbanks vicinity; Southcentral Alaska: Index Lake.  It is not difficult to see why many gardeners would mistake an Hemaris thysbe moth for a small hummingbird as it hovers, sipping nectar from flowers through a long feeding tube.  The moth hovers briefly, sipping for only a few seconds before darting off to a new flower. Green body “fur” and burgundy wing scales suggest a small ruby throated hummingbird.

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth
Hummingbird Clearwing Moth
Photo of author


BugMan aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. 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.

4 thoughts on “Hummingbird Clearwing Moth”

  1. Hi Ian

    I took pictures of the exact same species on July 19th in Nine Mile River, NS. We have been debating what he was. At first my husband thouht he was a baby hummingbird, then I got a great closeup. We were calling ours a BumbleBird, just until we found out what it was.

    Have you seen many around? I am fascinated with them now.

  2. I found this strange moth like thingy on the back of my car today in Wilmot NS..
    It is about two inches long with clear wings and a big head/body..I have pictures but can’t seem to add them here


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