Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I received a clearwing sphinx moth from Kit's mom in Virginia and felt like doing a post about a similar-looking family of moths - the clearwing sesiid moth. The first moth pictured below is of the family sphingidae, of which I have already done an entry. The second moth is of the family sesiidae. Both moths are similar in that they have areas of their wings which are devoid of scales. The way one differentiates a sesiid moth from other moths with clear spots on their wings is that in sesiids, the front wings are long and narrow, at least four times as wide, and they appear wasp-like (mimics).

Lepidoptera; Bombycoidea; Sphingidae; Macroglossinae; Dilophonotini; Hemaris thysbe
Common Name: Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Lepidoptera; Sesiidae; Sesiinae; Synanthedonini; Synanthedon resplendens (?)
Common Name: Clearwing Sycamore Borer

As for the family itself, sesiidae have a wing-coupling mechanism similar to Hymenoptera, with extra hooks along the wing margins to keep the wings together. Many species are brightly colored, and virtually all are diurnal. The two sexes are usually different colors, and the larvae bore into the roots, stems, canes, or trunks of plants or trees. Some serious pests are the peach tree borer, Synanthedon exitiosa, and the squash vine borer, Melittia cucurbitae. Sesiid sex pheromones have been synthesized to help capture males of sesiid pests, and they are capable of attracting almost all male sesiids. They often mimic wasps and bees, and their tail is described as lobster-like. The sesiid above lost a fair few scales in the pinning, so it is not in its prime condition.

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