Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

Snowberry Clearwing
Hemaris diffinis (Boisduval, 1836)

Family: Sphingidae
Subfamily: Macroglossinae
Identification: Adults are quite variable in appearance; Bumblebee mimic. The thorax is golden or olive-golden in color, abdomen is black dorsally with 1-2 segments just prior to terminal end being yellow to various extent, while black ventrally. H. diffinis is the only eastern species to exhibit blue abdominal tufts on the first black segment in some freshly emerged specimens. Wings mostly clear with reddish brown terminal borders and dark scaling along veins. While wing maculation is too variable to be 100% diagnostic, diffinis typically has very thin terminal borders and the discal cell is elongate and without scales. However, diffinis can always be distinguished from gracilis and thysbe by two diagnostic characteristics: 1) the black band that crosses the eye and travels down the lateral side of the thorax; 2) diffinis always has black legs.
Wing Span: 1 1/4 - 2 inches (3.2 - 5 cm).
Life History: Adults fly swiftly during the day. Caterpillars pupate in cocoons spun in leaf litter on the ground.
Flight: Two broods from March-August.
Caterpillar Hosts: Snowberry (Symphoricarpos), honeysuckle (Lonicera), dogbane (Apocynum), and dwarf bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera).
Adult Food: Nectar from flowers including lantana, dwarf bush honeysuckle, snowberry, orange hawkweed, thistles, lilac, and Canada violet.
Habitat: A wide variety of open habitats, streamsides, fields, gardens, and suburbs.
Range: East of the Continental Divide, through most of the United States to Maine and Florida. Some overlap with Hemaris thetis just east of the Divide.
Conservation: Not usually required.
NCGR: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management Needs: None reported.
Comments: new description from coordinator Jason D. Roberts added 8/2009.