melittia

2

Squash Vine Borer (Melittia cucurbitae)

…a  species of clearwing moth (Sesiidae) which occurs from eastern North America south into Central America. Adult M. cucurbitae will typically fly from April to November, and will take nectar from a variety of plants. Their larvae feed mainly on squash, pumpkins, and gourds Like other sesiids squash vine borers are day flying, and mimic wasps with their bright coloration.

Classification

Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Lepidoptera-Sesioidea-Sesiidae-Sesiinae-Melittini-Melittia-M. cucurbitae

Image: Pollinator

Wasp Mimic Clearwing Moths (family Sesiidae)

No, this isn’t a wasp - it’s a moth! Members of the moth family Sesiidae (clearwing moths) are wasp mimics, and often incredibly good ones. The easiest way to tell them apart is by the body scales (frequently there are tufts at the tail-end of the abdomen) and thickened antennae.

Clearwing moths are day-fliers and can sometimes be encountered nectaring at flowers, but rarely come to lights at night. The mimicry affords them protection from some daytime predators. The caterpillars bore through the woody stems or roots of plants, and can sometimes be significant crop pests - a familiar one to home veggie gardeners might be the Squash Vine Borer (Melittia cucurbitae).

This one is a Western Poplar Clearwing (Paranthrene robiniae), which targets poplars, willows and birches throughout the west.

photo by H.K. Kaya, via: Wikimedia Commons

(via: Peterson Field Guides)