Seq # 390130010

Paranthrene tabaniformis (Rottemburg, 1775) Species

Last modified: Sept. 20, 2019, 3:41 p.m.

P. tabaniformis is a common species throughout Belgium.


Family: Sesiidae > Subfamily: Sesiinae > Tribus: Paranthrenini > Genus: Paranthrene > Species: Paranthrene tabaniformis
Vernacular names
Populierenwespvlinder (NL), Dusky Clearwing (EN), Petite Sésie du peuplier (FR), Kleiner Pappel-Glasflügler (DE)
Paranthrene asiliformis (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775), nec (Rott., 1775)
First mention in Belgium
De Sélys-Longchamps E. 1837. Catalogue des Lépidoptères ou Papillons de la Belgique, précédé du tableau des Libellulines de ce pays. — — : 1–29. On page 21.




This is a very distinctive and fairly large species (20–37 mm) with completely dark brown or black forewings without transparent areas. The black abdomen has 3 (female) or 4 (male) clearly distinguishable yellow bands.
In the afternoon, the males are very well attracted to the pheromone developed for this species.

Museum specimens

Specimens in nature


The egg is black and is elliptically shaped.


A very young larva is coloured dirty white or even pale rose. Later on, the larva is off-white, as in all other clearwings. The two brown pinnacles (little spines) on the dorsal part of the last abdominal segment are typical in this genus.


When living in a twig the larva causes the formation of a lens-shaped swelling. Above this swelling a short gallery is being gnawed in the centre of the twig.
If the caterpillar lives in a damaged (part of) a trunk, the larva mines between wood and bark constructing short galleries there.

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This species does not construct a cocoon but pupates, when inhabiting a twig, above the future exit hole, head down.
If it lives in a trunk (often a damaged part or even a cut –but still living– tree) it will mostly hatch between the wood and the bark of the tree.


Females lay their eggs on either younger twigs near a bud or on damaged parts of a tree trunk or branch. The young caterpillar bores into the plant and causes, when living in a young shoot, a swelling in it. This swelling, being sap-rich, serves as the food source while the short gallery constructed above the gall houses the caterpillar. Here the caterpillar pupates too, head down. The exit hole is in many cases at the side of the swelling.
But when living in damaged parts of a tree –sometimes even a cut tree– the larvae do not cause swellings but do make short galleries between bark and wood. With this way of life, a reasonable number of caterpillars can occur together, often extruding fair amounts of frass. Pupation then takes place head up so that hatching can take place from between bark and wood. In most cases the caterpillars hibernate twice but it is quite possible that descendants from early season females, that moreover develop in ideal circumstances, can make it to imago after just one wintering.

Flight periods

The adults fly from late May till mid August and sometimes till early September.

Observed on

Host plant (genera):
Populus and Salix

The larva lives in the twigs or trunks of Populus (poplar) species and sometimes also in Salix (willow).

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This species occurs everywhere the hostplants grow: gardens, parks, along roads and rivers, poplar plantations...

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