|scientific name Hemaris diffinis |
common name Snowberry Clearwing
Open areas including meadows, clearings, roadsides and woodland edges.
Adults have been collected in Alberta April through June, with the peak flight in late May and June.
A medium-size (3.5-5 cm wingspan) day-flying moth with translucent wings with narrow dark margins and the veins lined with dark scales. The forewing apex and base are red-brown. Both the head and thorax are olive-brown, the basal half of the abdomen is black with steel-blue patches and the posterior half is yellow, tipped with black. The larger Hummingbird Clearwing has wider margins on the wings, and dark olive brown, not yellow, patches on the abdomen. The Slender Clearwing (H. gracilis) is restricted to the boreal forest region, and lacks scaling in the forewing cell. Although not yet confirmed for Alberta, the very similar H. senta should be watched for in the mountains. "Most of the diagnostic characters (for separating senta and diffinis) are trends but some are fairly good. In senta, the first two abdominal segments are black and the next three segments are yellow (dorsally), while in diffinis the tendency is for the first three segments to be black and the next two segments are yellow (dorsally). In senta, the ventrum of the abdomen is almost all yellow except the black anal tuft and the legs are yellow, while in diffinis the ventrum of the abdomen has significant black and the legs are black... in addition, there is a black stripe running across the thorax from the eyes to the abdomen" (J. Tuttle, pers. corr., September 2001).
D. Macaulay image
The Snowberry Clearwing is diurnal and is most often encountered nectaring at spring flowers, including dandelions and lilacs. They are more of a grassland and open meadow species than the Hummingbird and Slender Clearwings. Snowberry Clearwings are rarely encountered when not on the wing, they look more like bees than moths. When the adults first emerge from the pupae, the wings are completely scaled, but most scales are loosely attached and fall off during the initial flight, leaving much of the wing translucent. There appears to be a single brood each year.
No Alberta data; elsewhere the reported larval hosts are Snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis, S. racemosus, and S. mollis), and Honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida). Adults visit many species of flowers for nectar.
From the Atlantic coast to Vancouver Island, mainly south of the boreal forest but widespread in the mountains, south to Texas and northern Mexico. In Alberta, it occurs in open meadows north into the southern edge of the Boreal forest, but is most common in the foothills.
Comments are published according to our submission guidelines. The EH Strickland Entomological Museum does not necessarily endorse the views expressed.