Hornet moth

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Hornet moth
Sesia apiformis mounted.jpg
Sesia apiformis adult1.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Sesiidae
Genus: Sesia
Species: S. apiformis
Binomial name
Sesia apiformis
(Clerck, 1759)
  • Sphinx apiformis Clerck, 1759 (nec Linnaeus, 1761, nec Hübner, 1796)
  • Sphinx apiformis Linnaeus, 1761 (nec Hübner, 1796)
  • Sphinx crabroniformis [Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775 (nec Fabricius, 1793, nec Lewin, 1797, nec Laspeyres, 1801)
  • Sphinx sireciformis Esper, 1782
  • Sphinx tenebrioniformis Esper, 1782
  • Sphinx vespa Retzius, 1783
  • Trochilium apiformis f. brunneipes Turati, 1913
  • Trochilum apiformis ab. brunnea Caflisch, 1890
  • Trochilium apiformis ab. caflischii Standfuss, 1892
  • Aegeria apiformis ab. rhodani Mouterde, 1955

The hornet moth or hornet clearwing (Sesia apiformis) is a large bulky moth.

Adults resemble a large hornet - the wingspan is 33–48 mm., the abdomen has yellow banding. After emergence, most of the wing scales are lost revealing the transparent wing membrane.

Hornet mimicry[edit]

The hornet moth is a Batesian mimic of, and may be confused with, the real hornet. The moth is as large as a hornet and even has the hornet's rather jerky flight when disturbed, but it has more yellow and lacks the waist between the abdomen and the thorax.

Similar species[edit]


Recorded habitats include parks, hedgerows, golf courses, quarries, pits, fens, plantation edges, pond edges, damp woodland and marshy areas with mature willows. The eggs are laid in old and isolated trees. Trees in open habitats with little vegetation round the base are a particular favourite.

Flight season[edit]

There is one generation each year (univoltine). S. apiformis flies from mid-June to July and sometimes into early August.

Larval foodplants[edit]

The larvae feed on Populus tremula, Populus nigra and Salix caprea.

Life cycle[edit]

It overwinters as a larva one and sometimes two times, after which it stays in its cocoon for another winter. Adults are often found on poplar trees straight after emergence. The females lay their eggs at the base of poplar trees, the larval food plant. The larvae hatch and feed mainly just beneath the surface of the bark, near ground or below it. Exit holes can often be seen near the base of poplar trees and there may be pupal cases nearby. The pupal exuvia may also be seen protruding from the exit holes on the trunk of the host tree. Adults are most active in sunshine but are seldom seen. Emergence from the pupa is in early morning and synchronous.[1] Groups of newly emerged moths can be spotted resting on the tree trunk for a few hours before flight.


The hornet moth is a Palearctic species (Europe).



External links[edit]