snowberry clearwing

(Hemaris diffinis)

snowberry clearwing
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  Hodges #


Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N4N5 - Apparently Secure to Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Snowberry clearwing is a common, colorful, small to medium-sized, day-flying sphinx moth. It has a wingspan of 1¼ to 2. It is highly variable in appearance across its range. Fifteen forms have been described.

When the adult first emerges from the cocoon the wings are completely covered with reddish-brown scales. The scales begin to drop off with the first flight, eventually leaving the wings clear except on the margins and along the veins. The forewing is long and narrow with a smooth, slightly convex outer margin. It is mostly transparent except at the base; a thin terminal margin with a usually smooth inner edge; an orange apical spot; an orange stripe along the inner margin; and dark scales outlining each vein making them appear bold. The forewing cell is boldly outlined and undivided. The hindwing is mostly transparent except at the base, a thin terminal margin, and bold veins.

The thorax is golden-yellow on the sides blending to olive-brown or olive-green with a brown dorsal stripe above. The abdomen is mostly blackish. The first 3 abdominal segments are black. On some freshly emerged individuals there are some blue hairs on the first abdominal segment. The fourth and fifth abdominal segments are yellow above and on the sides and black below, forming a broken band. Tufts of long hairs flare outward from the last abdominal segment and look like feathers. There is often with a patch of golden-yellow to golden-brown hairs in the middle.

The head is olive-green or olive-brown above, golden-yellow below. There is a black stripe through the eyes that continues diagonally across the thorax. The antennae are black, thickened, and club-like. The proboscis is long and is coiled under the head when not in use.

The legs are black.

The caterpillar is up to 1¾ long. It is usually bluish-green above and yellowish-green on the sides. Sometimes it is entirely brown. The head, thorax, and abdomen are moderately covered with prominent, minute, white bumps (granules). The head is green. The leading edge of the thorax has a yellow collar covered with prominent yellow granules. A long, curved horn extends from the eighth abdominal segment. The horn is yellow at the base, black from the middle to the tip. The spiracles are outlined with a black spot within a white spot. There is a minute white dot within the black spot above and below each spiracle. The leg-like structures (prolegs) are yellowish-green at the base, black in the middle, and dark brown at the end. Mature caterpillars can be found from June onward.




Wingspan: 1 to 2

Total length: to 13 16


Similar Species


Hummingbird clearwing (Hemaris thysbe) legs are pale.


Mostly open areas. Overgrown fields, woodland openings, forest edges, streamsides, powerlines, fencerows, gardens.




Two broods: May to early August




Adults fly during the day. They are not attracted to light.

They do not land on a flower but hover next to it while feeding. Sometimes they extend their forelegs into the flower, possibly to taste it.


Life Cycle


Females attract males by releasing pheromones. After mating, she lays spherical green eggs on the underside of host leaves. The eggs hatch in about one week and the caterpillars begin feeding on leaves and fruit of the host plant. They molt five times in four weeks before pupating. The first generation pupates in a cocoon among the leaf litter on the ground. Adults emerge two to four weeks later. The second generation caterpillar burrows into the soil and overwinters as a pupa and emerges in as an adult in May or June.


Larva Hosts


Northern bush-honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), viburnum (Viburnum spp.), elderberry (Sambucus spp.), and other plants in the Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle) family; also snowberry (Symphoricarpos) and dogbane (Apocynum spp.).


Adult Food


Flower nectar.


Distribution Map



7, 21, 24, 29, 30, 75, 82.







Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Bombycoidea (hawk, sphinx, silk, emperor, and allied moths)  


Sphingidae (sphinx moths)  




  Subtribe Hemarina  


Hemaris (clearwings and bee hawkmoths)  





Common Names


bumblebee moth

snowberry clearwing











A fleshy structure on the abdomen of some insect larvae that functions as a leg, but lacks the five segments of a true insect leg.























Visitor Photos

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Lucy Morrissey

    snowberry clearwing   snowberry clearwing  
    snowberry clearwing      

Molly and Robert Power


At first I thought this was a large bumble bee, but it turns out it's a hummingbird moth enjoying our honeysuckle!

  snowberry clearwing  

Alfredo Colon

    snowberry clearwing   snowberry clearwing  

Pennie Urban

    snowberry clearwing      

Wayne Rasmussen

    snowberry clearwing      

Bill Reynolds

    snowberry clearwing      
    snowberry clearwing      



Snowberry Clearwing Moth
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Snowberry Clearwing Moth  

Hemaris diffinis

a hummingbird moth (sphiinx moth)

Hemaris diffinis (Snowberry Clearwing)
Allen Chartier
  Hemaris diffinis (Snowberry Clearwing)  
Hemaris diffinis - Snowberry Clearwing Moth
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
  Hemaris diffinis - Snowberry Clearwing Moth  

H. diffinis (Snowberry Clearwing) has black legs, the legs of H. thysbe (Hummingbird Clearwing) are off white to reddish, H. gracilis (Slender Clearwing) does have more maroon colored legs than H. thysbe, but the best character to diagnose H. gracilis is a reddish-brown patch along the side of the thorax where the legs meet the thorax, that coloration carries over into the legs. - Ryan St Laurent on Mothing




Visitor Videos

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Felicia Hunt


Saw June 26th in the evening on some bee blum at my house in Minneapolis (North).

Other Videos
  Snowberry Clearwing Moths (Hemaris diffinis)
Mark Berman

Published on Aug 18, 2013

Snowberry Clearwind Moths (Hemaris diffinis) nectar feeding on Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park, Ohio. 8-14-13.

  Hummingbird moth, Hemaris diffinis

Uploaded on Jul 13, 2010

Saw at least 4 of them in a small field with flowering weeds within the First Chain Lake area of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Didn't seem to mind my presense as they were practically flying into the camera.

  Snowberry Clearwing Moth

Uploaded on Jul 13, 2011

No description available.

  Snowberry Clearwing Caterpillar

Published on Sep 18, 2012

Snowberry Clearwing Caterpillar (Hemaris diffinis). Camp Creek Run, Marlton, NJ. September.

  Hummingbird Moth July 19
Kimber Beckham

Published on Jul 19, 2013

Hummingbird Moth or Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris Diffinis) (not 100% sure of the identification since I see conflicting IDs online) 7:30 a.m. July 19, Rutland, MA - enjoying an early start to the day getting in his sips of nectar. This is slightly longer better view than I posted to facebook earlier.




Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this insect.

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Be sure to include a location.
  Lucy Morrissey

Location: Hennepin County

snowberry clearwing  
  Molly and Robert Power

Location: Albany MN

At first I thought this was a large bumble bee, but it turns out it's a hummingbird moth enjoying our honeysuckle!

snowberry clearwing  
  Gary and Kathy Montz

Location: Maplewood, MN, Ramsey County

Watched moth feeding on our small stand of Monarda near our backdoor – first time we’ve ever seen this at our flowers.

  John Bonach

Location: Tower, MN

We watched this moth poking our petunias at our cabin on Lake Vermilion, Tower, MN.

  Felicia Hunt

Location: Minneapolis

Saw June 26th in the evening on some bee blum at my house in Minneapolis (North).

  Pennie Urban

Location: Rhinelander, WI

snowberry clearwing  
  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

snowberry clearwing  
  Paulette G

Location: Anoka county

Attracted to my catmint

  Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Joy Park

snowberry clearwing  
  Del Fredricks

Location: 158th Ave NW Ramsey, Mn Anoka county

Observed 4 feeding on Miss Kim lilacs at my home.

  Bill Reynolds

Location: Pennington Co.

snowberry clearwing  




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