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Ironweed Clearwing Moth (Carmenta bassiformis)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Ironweed Clearwing Moth

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Ironweed Clearwings looks like wasps thanks to its colors, banding, and transparent wings.

Updated: 07/06/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
A type of Borer moth, the Ironweed Clearwing is often seen in areas where ironweed grows, a type of flowering plant in the Aster family. The moth's body may be black or brown with yellow banding around the abdomen. A flourish of hairs grow from the tip of the abdomen, like short tail feathers. The clear wings are bordered in black or brown and legs are yellow. The antennae have a white band on them, which helps differentiate this species from other Clearwing Borers. The thorax has yellow lines on either side of it and possibly a third running down the center. Because this is a moth, it does not sting despite looking like a wasp.

Caterpillars for this species dig into the roots of ironweed plants and feed. This moth is also called the Eupatorium Borer Moth, which reflected the genus name of a type of Joe-Pye Weed. It is now in a different genus, but it is likely the caterpillar feeds on it in addition to ironweed.

Look for Ironweed Clearwings in meadows and areas where ironweed grows. It is a day flyer, taking full advantage of the protection from predators that its wasp-like body and behavior give it.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Sesiidae
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          Genus: Carmenta
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            Species: bassiformis
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Carmenta bassiformis
Other Name(s): Eupatorium Borer Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 14mm (0.31" to 0.55")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; brown; red
Descriptors: bands; transparent wings; wasp-like; furry tail; flying;

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 8mm (0.3in) and 14mm (0.6in)
Lo: 8mm
Md: 11mm
Hi: 14mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Ironweed Clearwing Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Ironweed Clearwing Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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