Mother of monsters

Mazza kindly sent this photo of the elegant moth that comes from the clunky brown caterpillars I mentioned in the post ‘The monsters in the grapevines’.

Pale brown hawk moth, photo by Mazza Verdante

It is the pale brown hawk moth (Theretra latreillii ) and is quite common.

From Queensland Museum website:

‘Hawk moths are large to very large moths with stout, torpedo-shaped bodies. They are fast, agile fliers. The adults feed on nectar with their long proboscis usually while hovering. Most fly at night or at dusk but the clearwing hawk moths, species of Cephanodes, fly during the day. There are about 60 Australian species of hawk moths.

‘The large caterpillars of hawk moths usually have a distinctive stiff horn or tail on the back end. Many species have green or brown caterpillars with bold diagonal bands that cross the body. These help with camouflage, disrupting the outline of the body. Many also have prominent eye spots, which may help deter predators.

‘Hawk moth caterpillars feed on a wide range of native and introduced plants including cunjevoi (Alocasia macrorrhizos), balsam (Impatiens spp.), cultivated grapes (Vitis vinifera) and their native relatives (Cayratia and Cissus spp.), and ornamental gardenias (Gardenia augusta).’

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2 Responses to Mother of monsters

  1. jane says:

    We have the dark brown ones and they are the bane of my life. Just about the only thing I kill. A single caterpillar can completely wipe out a plant the size of a fuchsia bush or a very large cabbage in a single night. Euwww. Fortunately, the moths are the only thing my cat ever hunts so we keep the population within reasonable bounds.

    • Joy Window says:

      Perhaps you could persuade some of your lovely chameleons to eat the caterpillars! Sounds like you could do with more birds in your suburb.

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