Hippotion brennus (Stoll, 1782)
(one synonym : Panacra maculiventris Miskin, 1891)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

(Photo: courtesy of Tom and David Sleep, Queensland)

The Caterpillars of this species are initially plain green with a black forward curving tail spike. Middle instars develop an eyespot on each side of each abdominal segment, with the eyespots on the first segment being twice as large as those on the other segments. The body becomes speckled with white dots, and the main colour changes to dark brown. The tail spike shrinks at each moult, and in the last instar has a length of only 1 mm. The caterpillars has been found feeding on

  • Snake Vine (Hibbertia scandens, DILLENIACEAE), and
  • Medicine Bush (Coelospermum reticulatum, RUBIACEAE)

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 8 cms. Pupation occurs in a cocoon in a curled leaf in in the ground litter. The pupa has a length of about 4 cms.

    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Queensland)

    The adult moths have variable patterned brown or grey forewings, and yellow or orange hindwings with a brown border.

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

    The forewings each have a recurve on both the hind and outer margins. The hindwings each have a recurve on the outer margin near the tornus. The abdomen has four white markings along each side. The moth has a wingspan of about 8 cms.

    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Queensland)

    The species occurs in

  • Papua,
  • Maluku,

    and also in Australia in

  • Queensland, and
  • northern New South Wales.

    drawing by Caspar Stoll, listed as Sphinx brennus
    Papillons exotiques, De uitlandsche kapellen, voorkomende in de drie waereld,
    Volume 4 (1782), Plate CCCXCVIII, fig. B,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

    Further reading :

    Max S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 132-135, Plates 28, 77, 87.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 201.

    Caspar Stoll,
    Papillons exotiques,
    in Pieter Cramer:
    De uitlandsche kapellen, voorkomende in de drie waereld,
    Volume 4 (1782), p. 233, and also Plate 398, fig. B.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 7 April 2006, 22 February 2015, 10 December 2020)