Coequosa australasiae (Donovan, 1805)
Triangle Hawk Moth
(one synonym : Brachyglossa banksiae Boisduval, [1875])
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

early instar with very pointed head
(Photo: courtesy of Ken Jackson, Wedderburn, New South Wales)

The caterpillars of this species lack the spike on the tail that many caterpillars in SPHINGIDAE have, but for the first 6 instars: the body tapers from a fat tail to a brown forked spike on the head. For the 7th (last) instar the pointed head is more rounded. All instars are green and covered in small warts. The last three instars have a variable set of diagonal yellow stripes, one on each side of each abdominal segment.

(Photo: courtesy of Christine Hartley, Eumundi, Queensland)

The caterpillars feed on the foliage of various species of Gum Trees (MYRTACEAE) including:

  • Sydney Red Gum ( Angophora costata ),
  • Lemon-scented Gum ( Corymbia citriodora ), and
  • Sydney Bluegum ( Eucalyptus saligna ).

    later instar
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Jackson, Wedderburn, New South Wales)

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 11 cms.

    empty pupa
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Jackson, Wedderburn, New South Wales)

    The pupa is formed in an excavated depression or chamber, depending on soil friability, down to a maximum depth of 10 cms. If near the surface, the pupa is camouflaged by debris held together in a loose cocoon. The pupa is dark brown and has a length of about 6 cms.

    (Photo: courtesy of Alex Roberts, Culburra Beach, New South Wales)

    The adult moths have forewings that are light and dark brown with a variable wavy pattern, and hindwings that are orange with a brown hind-margin. The forewing tips are truncated.

    (Photo: courtesy of Peter Cunningham, Hyams Beach, New South Wales)

    The margins of all four wings are concave. The forewing hind-margins are concave. The female moths have a wingspan of about 14 cms. The male moths have a wingspan of about 12 cms.

    male moth dispaying anal tufts
    (Photo: courtesy of Chris Stevenson, Beecroft, New South Wales)

    The male moths have coremata which display tufts of orange hair, probably dispersing pheromones to attract females.

    close-up of coremata tufts
    (Photo: courtesy of Dianne Clarke, Mapleton, Queensland)

    The species is found over much of Australia, including:

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales, and
  • Victoria.

    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The undersides are brown with a submarginal arc of dark dots on each wing, and a dark mark halfway long each forewing costa.

    (Photo: courtesy of Dianne Clarke, Mapleton, Queensland)

    The eggs are pale green and spheroidal, with a diameter of about 2.5 mm. As they approach hatching, they develop a red encircling band. The eggs are laid singly, usually on a leaf or stem of a foodplant, although in captivity, the females lay on anything. Each female normally lays over 100 eggs.

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 41.5, p. 412.

    Edward Donovan,
    General Illustration of Entomology,
    An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of New Holland, New Zealand, New Guinea, Otaheite and other Islands in the Indian, Southern and Pacific Oceans,
    London (1803), Part 1, pp. 138, 139, and also Plate 33, fig. 1

    H.E. Groth,
    The life history of Metamimas australasiae Donovan (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae),
    The Australian Entomologist,
    Volume 22, Part 3 (September 1995), pp. 91-95.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
    Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 30-31.

    Maxwell S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 98-103, Plates 19, 75, 86.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 207.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 25 January 2010, 10 February 2023)