The Sesiidae or clearwing moths are a diurnal moth family in the order Lepidoptera known for their Batesian mimicry in both appearance and behaviour of various Hymenoptera.

Synanthedon tipuliformis.jpg
Synanthedon tipuliformis
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Sesioidea
Family: Sesiidae
Boisduval, 1828
Type species
Sphinx apiformis
Clerck, 1759


151 genera
1,370 species
  • Aegeriidae Stephens, 1828
  • Trochiliidae Westwood, 1843

The family consists of 151 genera spread over two subfamilies, containing in total 1370 species and 50 subspecies, most of which occur in the tropics, though there are many species in the Holarctic region as well, including over a hundred species known to occur in Europe.[1]:Backcover, 6


Sesiidae are characterized by their hymenopteriform[a] Batesian mimicry, frequently of identifiable species.[1]:11, 16 Most species of Sesiidae have wings with areas where scales are nearly completely absent, resulting in partial, marked transparency.[1]:11 Forewings are commonly elongated and narrow in the basal half.[1]:11 In many species, the abdomen is elongated, with an anal tuft, and striped or ringed yellow, red or white,[1]:11 sometimes very brightly so. Legs are long, thin and frequently coloured,[1]:11 and in some species the hind-legs are elongated.[2] In European species, the wing span ranges from 8 to 48 mm.[1]:11

Larvae lack pigment. Segments of the thorax are somewhat enlarged.[1]:11


The larvae of the Sesiidae typically bore in wood or burrow in plant roots. Many species are serious pests of fruit-tree or timber cultivation, or crop plants (e.g. Melittia spp. on squash) (Edwards et al., 1999). Larval development lasts 1–4 years, pupal stage 10–20 days.[1]:16

Adults are diurnally active.[2][1]:16 Movements, including flight, mimic those of Hymenoptera spp.[1]:16 Specimens are commonly collected using pheromone lures.[2][1]:22



  1. ^ Hymenoptera + form: having the appearance of Hymenoptera species, such as wasps and hornets
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Laštůvka, Zdeněk; Laštůvka, Aleš (2001). The Sesiidae of Europe. Stenstrup: Apollo Books. ISBN 8788757528.
  2. ^ a b c Sadahisa, Yagi; Toshiya, Hirowatari; Yutaka, Arita (7 March 2016). "A remarkable new species of the genus Teinotarsina (Lepidoptera, Sesiidae) from Okinawa-jima, Japan". ZooKeys (571): 143–152. doi:10.3897/zookeys.571.7780. PMC 4829806. PMID 27110163.
  • Edwards, E.D., Gentili, P., Horak, M., Kristensen, N.P. and Nielsen, E.S. (1999). The cossoid/sesioid assemblage. Ch. 11, pp. 183–185 in Kristensen, N.P. (Ed.). Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies. Volume 1: Evolution, Systematics, and Biogeography. Handbuch der Zoologie. Eine Naturgeschichte der Stämme des Tierreiches / Handbook of Zoology. A Natural History of the phyla of the Animal Kingdom. Band / Volume IV Arthropoda: Insecta Teilband / Part 35: 491 pp. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York.

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