ARTHROPOD MUSEUM NOTES

Number 43 • July 31, 2006 • Jeffrey K. Barnes

Snowberry clearwing
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Sphingidae
Genus and species: Hemaris diffinis (Boisduval)

Snowberry clearwing Snowberry clearwing


There are four species in the clearwing moth genus Hemaris in North America. The distinctive moths have areas of their wings that are clear and free of scales. They emerge from their pupae with the wings scaled, but the scales are loosely attached and are shed when the moths start to fly. Furthermore, they fly during daytime rather than at night like most other moths. Snowberry clearwings are regarded as important pollinators, and they are a common sight in Arkansas gardens. They dart quickly from flower to flower sipping nectar in full sunlight. Their wings beat rapidly, giving the animals the appearance of large bees or small hummingbirds. The species has a large range, encompassing much of the United States and Canada, and its coloration varies seasonally, geographically, and individually. This variation historically caused much confusion, with the naming of many forms as different species. The larvae, which are typical hornworms except for their rather small size, are green with black spots around each spiracle. They feed on snowberry, dogbane, honeysuckle, and dwarf bush honeysuckle.