Hummingbird Moth from Japan

Green moth found in Japan
October 13, 2009
My friend took a photo of this lovely moth in Tokyo, mid-October, near her apartment. I’ve been trying to find out exactly what it is, and I think it may be a Cephonodes species, but I’m unsure exactly what. If you could help give an exact ID that would be wonderful 🙂
Tokyo, Japan

Cephonodes hyles
Cephonodes hyles

Hi choco,
Your photo is tiny and lacking in resolution, but we agree that this is a Cephonodes species, probably Cephonodes hylas.  We found a photo quickly by doing a web search of Sphingidae Japan, and then double checked on the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website.  That site states:  “When the moth first emerges, which it usually does in the early morning, the hyaline portion of the wings is covered densely with greyish scales. These come off in a little cloud when the wings are rapidly vibrated before the first flight (Bell & Scott, 1937)” and we believe these scales are present in your specimen, indicating that it has newly metamorphosed and has not yet flown.  Diurnal Sphinghids are often called Hummingbird Moths in North America since they are frequently mistaken for hummingbirds, and we are taking creative license with that common name in our posting title.

4 thoughts on “Hummingbird Moth from Japan”

  1. I think I also saw this moth between October 16 and 21 in Iwate prefecture (northern Honshu), Japan. At first I thought it was a hummingbird, but a bird book revealed no hummers in Japan. The wings were a rust colour and the proboscis was long and curved. It darted among the golden nasturtiums with a distinct humming sound. It was in the same location for several days, always when it was sunny and calm. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me. Thanks for the ID.

  2. Hello! Are then any previous sightings of these in Australia? I think I saw one today in Grenfell in central west NSW. My friend and I were extremely perplexed as to what it was, and it took quite a few google image searches before I recognised what we had seen. Is is possible its a different species?

    • Also…I just found another moth that looks very similar from America – the snowberry clearwing Moth. What are the similarities and differences between these two? The one I saw today seemed extremely similar, but it did seem to be smoother on the top half, while distinctly fluffy on the bottom half.


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