Butterflies & Moths of the Adirondacks:
Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

Moths of the Adirondack Park: Hummingbird Clearwing at the Paul Smiths Native Species Butterfly House (29 May 2014).
Moths of the Adirondacks: Hummingbird Clearwings were named because their movements mimic those of a hummingbird. Hummingbird Clearwing habitat includes forests, meadows, fields, cities, suburbs, and towns. Hummingbird Clearwing at the Paul Smiths Native Species Butterfly House (29 May 2014).

The Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe) – also known as the Hummingbird Moth [1] – is a small moth that may be seen in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York in summer. It is a member of the Sphingidae or Sphynx Moth family. [2] Named because its movement mimics that of a hummingbird, adult Hummingbird Clearwings, in contrast to many moths, are day fliers.[3] They fly during the daytime, hovering briefly at flowers to sip nectar. [4] [5] [6] The green body covering and burgundy wing scales suggest a small ruby-throated hummingbird. [7]

Moths of the Adirondack Park: Hummingbird Clearwing at the Paul Smiths VIC Native Species Butterfly House (21 June 2014).
Moths of the Adirondacks: Adult Hummingbird Clearwings consume nectar from a variety of flowers, including dogbane. Hummingbird Clearwing at the Paul Smiths VIC Native Species Butterfly House (21 June 2014).

The Hummingbird Clearwing has wings which are mostly transparent with reddish brown terminal borders and dark scaling along the veins. Its legs are yellowish or pale. From above, the thorax is olive or golden olive. From below, the thorax is yellow. The abdomen is very dark burgundy from both above and below. [8] The wing span of the Hummingbird Clearwing is about 1.5 to 2 inches. [9].

Caterpillar hosts include honeysuckle, snowberry, cherries and plums. [10] [11] Adults consume nectar from a variety of flowers including Japanese honeysuckle, lilac, snowberry, vetch, bee balm, red clover, dogbane, and phlox. [12]

Hummingbird Clearwings reportedly are common in Canada and the eastern US, including New York State. [13] [14] Their habitat includes forests and woodlands, meadows and fields, as well as cities, suburbs, and towns. [15]

In the northern part of their range, adult Clearwings fly from April to August. In the Adirondacks, Hummingbird Clearwings appear to fly from late spring through early August, depending on the weather. In 2012, they were present in the Paul Smiths VIC Native Species Butterfly House through much of the summer.[16] In 2014, this species was seen in the Butterfly House in late May, late June, and early July. [17]


References

  • Susan Grimm Hanley. Interpretive Naturalist, Paul Smith's College Native Species Butterfly House. Species Logbooks.
  • Butterflies and Moths of North American. Species Profiles. Sighting records: 8/4/2012; 8/4/2012, 7/10/2013; 5/29/2014; 6/21/2014; 7/12/2014.
  • ENature. Field Guides.
  • Iowa State University. Department of Entomology. BugGuide.
  • Insect Images. Hummingbird Clearwing.
  • Sphingidae of the United States. Hemaris thysbe
  • Charles V. Covell, Jr. A Field Guide to the Moths of Eastern North America (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984), p. 40, Plate 6.
  • David Carter. Butterflies and Moths (Dorling Kindersley, Inc., 1992), p. 242.
  • David Beadle and Seabrooke Leckie. Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2012), pp. 264-265.
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