Snowberry Clearwing

Hemaris diffinis
Sphingidae (sphinx moths)

Like other sphinx moths, the adults have protruding heads, large eyes, a large “furry” thorax, and a conical abdomen that extends well beyond the hindwings when the moth flies. This particular sphinx moth mimics a bumblebee: The body is fuzzy golden yellow, and the abdomen has black and yellow bands. The wings have large central patches that lack scales and are thus clear. The legs and most of the underside of the body are black.

Larvae are usually green with black spiracles. Behind the head is a yellow “collar.” As with other sphinx moths, the caterpillar is a “hornworm” with a pointy “tail” arising from the end of the body; the horn on this species is black with a yellow base.

Wingspan: 1¼–1¾ inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Found in woods and brushy fields; also frequently seen in city yards and gardens. This is a day-flying species that visits a variety of flowers, sometimes into the evening hours. The adults mimic bumblebees.
Larvae feed on buck brush (coralberry), snowberry, horse gentian, blue star, honeysuckles and dogbanes. The adults drink nectar from a variety of flowers, hovering near them like a tiny hummingbird.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Life cycle: 
Adults fly from late March into September. There are usually two broods in Missouri. This species pupates in a cocoon on the ground.
Human connections: 
People like to learn about nature because its wonders never cease. In order to be left alone by predators, this moth looks amazingly like a bumblebee. Until the moment when we, too, realize that it’s a moth, few of us would want to handle it, either!
Ecosystem connections: 
The caterpillars are herbivores that graze on vegetation. The adults serve a role in pollination. All stages provide food for predators. For this day-flying moth, bumblebee mimicry, and flying fast like a hummingbird, help it survive long enough to create the next generation.
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