Hopliocnema brachycera (Lower, 1897)
Desert Hawk Moth
(previously known as Cosmotriche brachycera)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Hopliocnema brachycera
(Photo: copyright of Brett and Marie Smith at Ellura Sanctuary, South Australia)

The early instar Caterpillars of this species are green, with no tail spike. Later instars develop a blunt reddish horn on the head, and a tiny black tail spike, length about 1 mm. The caterpillars have been found feeding on

  • Weeping Emu Bush, (Eremophila longifolia, MYOPORACEAE).

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 5 cms. They burrow into the ground to pupate at a depth of about 10 cms. The pupa has a length of about 3 cms. If conditions are unfavorable, the pupal stage can last several years.

    The adult moths have grey forewings, each with two pairs of wavy dark stripes, and a small central black-edged pale spot. The hindwings are plain white with dark veins and chequered edges. The adults have no haustellum and cannot feed. The wingspan is about 4 cms.

    Hopliocnema brachycera
    (Photo: courtesy of Peter Marriott, Moths of Victoria - Part 1)

    The species is found in

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

    The eggs are grey, and develop a brown band. The are oval with a length of about 1.5 mm. The are laid in small clusters under leaves or on stems of a foodplant.

    Hopliocnema brachycera
    (Photo: copyright of Brett and Marie Smith at Ellura Sanctuary, South Australia)

    The adult moths are similar to those of Chelacnema ochra, but the outlined circular forewing spots of Hopliocnema brachycera have pale grey centres, whereas those of Chelacnema ochra have pale orange centres.

    Further reading :

    Oswald B. Lower,
    Descriptions of new Australian Lepidoptera,
    Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia,
    Volume 21 (1893), p. 50.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
    Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 28-31.

    Max S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 152-154, Plates 34, 78, 87.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 206.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 2 December 2009, 19 March 2018, 10 December 2020)