Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

29 08 2007

Now that’s a mouthful, ain’t it? I was just out cleaning up the front yard garden (if one can even call it a garden at this point…I can’t believe how many weeds I’ve let sprout!) and while trimming the dead parts out of our purple butterfly bush, I spotted this little guy and knew it was a hummingbird moth (Debbi taught me about them a few years ago when we spotted one in the back yard). I grabbed my camera and got a few (mostly blurry shots—they’re not called hummingbirds for nothing). Here are the best shots I could get…you can barely see the “clearwings” because it was moving so fast. I identified it through several websites…the snowberry clearwing is the smallest of the hummingbird moths.

From my research:
Clearwing moths, the group to which the hummingbird and bumblebee mimics belong, lose the scales on their front wings after their first flight. Their wings resemble leaded stained glass with clear glass in the panels, much like a bee or wasp wing. The snowberry clearwing is often mistaken for a bumblebee. Not only does this clearwing have yellow and black bands, it also hovers and flits from flower to flower while sipping nectar.

Adults fly throughout the day in open woodlands and fields, as well as in gardens and suburbs throughout the state, between late March and September. This bumblebee mimic is yellow with black wings and abdomen. At 1.25 to 2 inches, its wingspan is slightly smaller than that of the hummingbird clearwing. Its larvae feed on honeysuckle, dogbane and buckbrush. Adults eat from many flowers, including thistles, milkweed and lilac.

If you want to learn more about this critter, click on the link below:


© 2007 Cindy Dyer, All rights reserved.



15 responses

11 04 2008

I had the good luck to see one of these beauties at a friends house last year….googled “smallest hummingbird”..and found info on this fantastic creature. Today, WoW, happened to see one on the azealas from across the way, ran to get a closer look. There are great advantages to living in Atlanta’s “Pollination”! Everything comes here to EAT! We also have a Barred Owl sharing time with us in the tall pines. Nice to see this site, enjoyed it, Bless ya, KIM

17 04 2008

I found your blog while googling hummingbird moths…THANK YOU for the accurate info (photos of the snowberry clearwing)–that’s what I saw last summer (lucky me) and what YOU helped me identify! Your work is truly beautiful & illustrative. I wish you well in your future endeavors.

15 05 2008

We’ve been seeing lots of hummingbird moths in Huntington Beach, CA, lately! I’ve never seen them before this year, but lots of friends have been talking about spotting them in and around their houses. Truly amazing little buggers!

Thanks for posting these great pics!

hummingbird feeders

23 03 2009
Cool Garden Things

These are wonderful images of such a wonderful creature —

6 07 2011

We saw this sweet little bug yesterday! Beautiful. Right here in Indiana!

24 07 2011

We noticed this little moth in our back yard in Nova Scotia! It is absolutely gorgeous!

27 07 2011

Hi Roberta—thanks for the comment. I’ve only seen one of these once since that photo was taken. They’re either not fond of my garden or I’m just missing them!

24 08 2011

I live in northern Illinois and was staining the fence while 2 of these adorable snowberries were going back and forth between my butterfly bushes, they were inches from me and didn’t mind fun!

30 08 2011

Found your photo right away to give that interesting creature a name. Great photos! We’re in Michigan and our first year for seeing them. Hope yours come back!

3 09 2011

that is a very cool picture ms dyer! you are so talented! and such a gifted writer!!

29 05 2012

Saw this moth around 5:30 am, upstate NY 5/29/12 and he/she was buzzing around and looked to be eating from a pile of horse manure, there were a swarm of smaller flying insects on the pile and I was not sure if the moth was eating the insects or the manure. Any thoughts?

7 08 2012

August 2012, I am seeing lots of the hummingbird moths at my sister’s estate in central MA near Fitchburg. Here they are small and have rust bodies. In WI the hummer moth is bigger and a different color. Amazing little moth. I wonder what happened in evolution to make it so unique? Brian Moran a 14 year old and I were checking out moths this morning on Google. We will be doing moth research together once he returns from Ireland. His grandmother, Pauline Moran, a life long friend took him to her home country today from Boston airport.

16 08 2012
Allen P.

Thank you for identifying this moth. I’ve seen them around my garden for years and was wondering what they were- but didn’t take time to research them. And, really didn’t know where to start. Have several around each season. Thanks again.

2 09 2012
Rebecca Shaw

I’ve had these guys on my butterfly bushes for the last month or 2 in Eastern NC, and now I know what they are! I love having them here too!!!

5 09 2012

Amazing lil creatures!!! Have seen a couple in the past several northern Indiana..beautiful!!!

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