Hemaris diffinis - (Boisduval, 1836)
Snowberry Clearwing
Other English Common Names: Bumblebee Clearwing
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.879158
Element Code: IILEX0W030
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Sphinx Moths
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Sphingidae Hemaris
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Schmidt, B. C. 2009. Hemaris thetis (Boisduval, 1855) (Sphingidae) is a distinct species. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 63(2):100-109.
Concept Reference Code: A09SCH04EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Hemaris diffinis
Taxonomic Comments: This circumscription follows Schmidt (2009) who documents that Hemaris thetis is a a separate species. Tuttle (2007) included in H. diffinis as well as all those he separated out as H. senta. H. diffinis occurs west only to about the Continental Divide, being replaced by H. thetis to the west.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 09Feb2017
Global Status Last Changed: 07Feb2012
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: This was historically fairly common using snowberry and native honeysuckles. It is much more common now eastward where it has benefited greatly from exotic introduced honeysuckles, such as Lonicera japonica, which are now the main foodplants in much of the Northeast. Widespread throughout the USA and temperate Canada east of the Continental Divide.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4N5 (12Sep2000)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (09Feb2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNR), Arkansas (SNR), Colorado (S4), Connecticut (SNR), Delaware (SNR), Florida (SNR), Georgia (SNR), Idaho (SNR), Illinois (SNR), Indiana (SNR), Iowa (SNR), Kansas (SNR), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (SNR), Maine (SNR), Maryland (SNR), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNR), Minnesota (SNR), Mississippi (SNR), Missouri (SNR), Montana (SNR), Nebraska (SNR), New Hampshire (SNR), New Jersey (SNR), New Mexico (SNR), New York (SNR), North Carolina (SNR), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (SNR), Pennsylvania (SNR), Rhode Island (SNR), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (SNR), Tennessee (SNR), Texas (SNR), Vermont (SNR), Virginia (SNR), West Virginia (SNR), Wisconsin (SNR), Wyoming (SNR)
Canada Alberta (S4), British Columbia (SNR), Manitoba (S4), New Brunswick (S4S5), Northwest Territories (SU), Nova Scotia (SU), Ontario (SNR), Quebec (SNR), Saskatchewan (SU)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Tuttle's (2007) map shows this species as present in portions of or all of the lower 48 US states, but absent from most of Florida and Texas, and also the coastal southern peninsula of Alaska and almost half of Canada including all of the mainland provinces except Labrador, but absent from most of the Yukon and Northwest Territories and all of the arctic. However, many of the western records, including those from British Columbia and all US records from west of central Colorado, are actually Hemaris thetis according to Schmidt (2009), who suggests that H. diffinis is not found widely, if at all, west of the continental divide. His map, based on actual specimen data, shows H. diffinis and H. thetis as overlapping in central and southwestern Alberta and in central Colorado, and H. diffinis (but not H. thetis) also in the Peace River grasslands of northwestern Alberta, with only H. thetis farther west, e.g. British Columbia and the three west coastal US states, presumably including Alaska. Schmidt has few records for Idaho, Nevada, Utah and, Arizona, but all of them are H. thetis. The exact western limits of H. diffinis are thus unclear in some portions of the range, e.g. through Wyoming and Montana, but generally it occurs east of the range shown by Tuttle for H. "senta". Tuttle's H. senta is now included in H. thetis (Schmidt, 2009) but so are western populations Tuttle mapped as H. diffinis.

Area of Occupancy: 2,000 to >20,000 km2 (direct estimate, default)
Area of Occupancy Comments: Thousands of small patches (a few hectares) of occupied habitat, and some much larger ones, in almost any eastern state where exotic honeysuckles grow.

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Essentially undefineable in much of range, a common landscape species using a great variety of habitats, the adults especially partial to gardens.

Population Size: 100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: No actual estimate but this is a common moth over much of a large continent, so one million adults per generation seems very conservative.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very many (>125)

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Relatively unthreatened except locally by development and extreme herbivory by deer, and in heavily agricultural regions extensive herbiciding of fence rows etc. eliminates habitat for this and many other pollinators. The same is true in states (e.g. Pennsylvania) where herbicides are widely used along highways and roadsides. Overall this species probably benefits from disturbances that favor exotic honeysuckles and probably also from flower gardens.

Short-term Trend: Increase of >10%

Long-term Trend: Increase of >25%

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Not intrinsically vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Broad. Generalist or community with all key requirements common.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Adaptable to a wide range of habitats including suburbia and old fields as well as more natural ones.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Tuttle's (2007) map shows this species as present in portions of or all of the lower 48 US states, but absent from most of Florida and Texas, and also the coastal southern peninsula of Alaska and almost half of Canada including all of the mainland provinces except Labrador, but absent from most of the Yukon and Northwest Territories and all of the arctic. However, many of the western records, including those from British Columbia and all US records from west of central Colorado, are actually Hemaris thetis according to Schmidt (2009), who suggests that H. diffinis is not found widely, if at all, west of the continental divide. His map, based on actual specimen data, shows H. diffinis and H. thetis as overlapping in central and southwestern Alberta and in central Colorado, and H. diffinis (but not H. thetis) also in the Peace River grasslands of northwestern Alberta, with only H. thetis farther west, e.g. British Columbia and the three west coastal US states, presumably including Alaska. Schmidt has few records for Idaho, Nevada, Utah and, Arizona, but all of them are H. thetis. The exact western limits of H. diffinis are thus unclear in some portions of the range, e.g. through Wyoming and Montana, but generally it occurs east of the range shown by Tuttle for H. "senta". Tuttle's H. senta is now included in H. thetis (Schmidt, 2009) but so are western populations Tuttle mapped as H. diffinis.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, NB, NS, NT, ON, QC, SK

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Ecology Comments: These moths are potential pollinators of deep flowers such as Platanthera orchids which require the moth's head to get inside in order to reach the nectar, or others with small sticky pollen that adheres to the long proboscis (see Tuttle, 2009, fig.9). Since this and H. thysbe are among the most common Sphingidae in much of the eastern US, they may be important pollinators of sphingophilous flowers in general. It is not known how far adults routinely disperse in search of nectar, but this could be a very important factor in their availability as pollinators in portions of their range where the foodplants are more or less restricted to fragments of native habitats, such as patches of prairie in extensively agricultural regions.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest Edge, Grassland/herbaceous, Shrubland/chaparral, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Adults are most often seen at flowers in gardens. While they usually seem to oviposit in fairly open habitats, they will move into forests to oviposit on ground cover Japanese honeysuckle at least in spring before canopy closure. Larvae can often be found on honeysuckles in edges or thickets. Westward, snowberry often occurs in prairies or savannas as do the moths. This seems to be fundamentally a species of prairies, savannas, fields, meadows, and edges, that has adapted to suburban and other disturbed areas.
Adult Food Habits: Nectarivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: The usual larval foodplants are mostly Caprifoliaceae, native foodplants include Diervilla lonicera, species of Lonicera, and probably Symphoricarpos (Tuttle, 2009). However, at least some of those for Symphoricarpos actually refer to H. thetis (Schmidt, 2009). Some native Apocynaceae, especially Amsonia species are also used (Robinson et al., 2002, Wagner, 2005), and Tietz (1952) and others report Apocynum. Invasive exotic honeysuckles have increasingly become the primary foodplants in many places in the East. This may well be the only caterpillar that regularly uses the highly toxic, invasive Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) although a few others have been reported from it. Ovipositions and larvae are frequently seen on that vine in south Jersey where originally H. diffinis was apparently rare, if present at all. Ground cover vines or those in low bushes are usually selected. Species identifications of exotic bush honeysuckles is difficult, but at least some of these also are used. Adults visit a wide array of flowers, but are perhaps most often seen at garden Buddleia. Earlier in the season they use azaleas, lilacs, and sheep laurel, among others.
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: In most of the range there are two or more annual generations with adults from about mid or late April to mid September, probably three broods, with a few stragglers later, in southern New Jersey (D. Schweitzer), late April to October in Louisiana (Tuttle, 2009). About May to August in Maine and much of Canada. Presumably only one brood in northern Canada, but dates from May to early early August suggest two in southern Canada. Like all North American Sphingidae, pupae overwinter, in this genus in a cocoon at the soil surface.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Seee element management group. Management would not be likely eastward.
Monitoring Requirements: Easily observed in flowr gardens.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 10Apr2012
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Management Information Edition Date: 04May2012
Management Information Edition Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 27Apr2012
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Schweitzer, Dale F.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • General Status 2015, Environment Canada. 2014. Manitoba moth species list and ranks as recommended by expert.

  • Grehan, John R. et al. 1995. Moths and Butterflies of Vermont (Lepidoptera): A Faunal Checklist. Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Vermont and Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, State of Vermont. Miscellaneous Publication 116. Vermont Monitoring Cooperative Bulletin No. 1.

  • Hodges, R.W. et al., eds. 1983. Check List of the Lepidoptera of America North of Mexico. E.W. Classey Limited and The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation, London. 284 pp.

  • Lafontaine, J. D. and J.T. Troubridge. 1998. Moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) in Smith, I.M., and G.G.E. Scudder, eds. Assessment of species diversity in the Montane Cordillera Ecozone. Burlington: Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network, 1998. Online. Available: http://www.naturewatch.ca/eman/reports/publications/99_montane/lepidopt/intro.html

  • Pohl, G.R., B. Patterson and J.P.  Pelham. 2016. Annotated taxonomic checklist of the Lepidoptera of North America, North of Mexico. Working paper published online by the authors at ResearchGate.net (May 2016). 766 pp. Online:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/302570819_Annotated_taxonomic_checklist_of_the_Lepidoptera_of_North_America_North_of_Mexico

  • Pohl, G.R.  J-F. Landry, B.C. Schmidt, J.D. Lafontaine, J.T. Troubridge, A.D. Macaulay, E.van Nieukerken, J.R. deWaard, J.J. Dombroskie, J. Klymko, V. Nazari and K. Stead. 2018. Annotated checklist of the moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) of Canada and Alaska. Pensoft Publishers. 580 pp.

  • Schmidt, B. C. 2009. Hemaris thetis (Boisduval, 1855) (Sphingidae) is a distinct species. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 63(2):100-109.

  • Schmidt, B.C. 2018. Cryptic species among bumblebee mimics: an unrecognized Hemaris hawkmoth (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) in eastern North America. Zootaxa 4399(1): 032-048.

  • Tuttle, J. P. 2007. The hawk moths of North America: A natural history study of the Sphingidae of the United States and Canada. The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation, Washington, D. C. 253 pp. +23 plates.

  • Wagner, D.L. 2012. Moth decline in the northeastern United States. News of the Lepidopteristss Society 54(2):52-56.

  • Wagner, D.L. 2005. Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton Field Guides. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ. 512 pp.

  • Wildlife Management Information System (WMIS). 2006+. Geo-referenced wildlife datasets (1900 to present) from all projects conducted by Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories, Canada.  Available at http://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/programs/wildlife-research/wildlife-management-information-services

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