Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

Hummingbird Clearwing
Hemaris thysbe (Fabricius, 1775)


Family: Sphingidae
Subfamily: Macroglossinae
Identification: Adult appearance is variable; Hummingbird mimic. The thorax is olive to golden-olive in color dorsally, yellow ventrally; abdomen is dark burgundy (sometimes almost black) both dorsally and ventrally, with light olive to dark golden patches dorsally. Wings mostly clear with reddish brown terminal borders and dark scaling along veins. While wing maculation is too variable to be 100% diagnostic, thysbe typically has thick terminal borders and the discal cell is typically covered or bisected by dark scales. However, thysbe can always be distinguished from gracilis and diffinis by two characteristics: 1) the lack of any banding on the lateral side of the thorax; 2) thysbe always has yellowish or pale colored legs.
Wing Span: 1 9/16 - 2 3/16 inches (4 - 5.5 cm).
Life History: Adults fly during the day, and hover at flowers to sip nectar. Caterpillars pupate in cocoons spun at the soil surface.
Flight: Two broods in the south from March-June and August-October; one brood in the north from April-August.
Caterpillar Hosts: Honeysuckle (Lonicera), snowberry (Symphoricarpos), hawthorns (Crataegus), cherries and plums (Prunus), and European cranberry bush (Viburnum opulus).
Adult Food: Nectar from a wide variety of flowers including Japanese honeysuckle, beebalm, red clover, lilac, phlox, snowberry, cranberry, blueberry, vetch, and thistles.
Habitat: Open and second-growth habitats, gardens, and suburbs.
Range: Alaska and the Northwest Territories south through British Columbia to Oregon; east through the Great Plains and the Great Lakes area to Maine and Newfoundland; south to Florida and Texas.
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 identification section added from Jason D. Roberts 8/2009