Theretra celata (Butler, 1877)
(formerly known as Chaerocampa celata)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

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

The Caterpillars of this species are usually green but occasionally can be brown. They have seven eyespots along each side of the abdomen which diminish in size toward the tail. Early instars have a yellow line running along each side of the body. The green form is spotted with dark green, and there is a row of purple spiracles along each side. When disturbed, the anterior eyespots can be expanded. The caterpillars have a horn on the tail which is black and straight in early instars, but becomes backward-curving and brown with a black tip in mature caterpillars. The caterpillars have been found feeding on various climbers in the Grape Family ( VITACEAE ), including :

  • Porcelain Grape ( Ampelopsis brevipedunculata ),
  • Slender Grape ( Cayratia clematidea ),
  • Kangaroo Vine ( Cissus antarctica ),
  • Himalaya Woodbine ( Parthenocissus himalayana ), and
  • Grapevine ( Vitis species )

    as well as plants from other families, including :

  • Gooseberry Vines ( Saurauia species, ACTINIDIACEAE ),
  • Arums ( Amorphophallus species, ARACEAE ),
  • Begonias ( Begonia species, BEGONIACEAE ),
  • Guinea Flowers ( Hibbertia species, DILLENIACEAE ),
  • Hibiscus ( Hibiscus species, MALVACEAE ), and
  • Giant Stinging Tree ( Dendrocnide excelsa, URTICACEAE ).

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

    Pupation usually occurs in ground litter. The pupa is a blotchy pale brown.

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

    The adult moths of this species are fawn in colour, with a dark curved line running from the apex to the hind margin on each forewing, and a dark area toward the base of each hindwing. The wingspan is about 8 cms.

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

    The eggs are pale green, smooth and oval, with a diameter of about 2 mm.

    The species is found in the south-west Pacific in

  • Papua,
  • Solomons,

    as well as Australia in:

  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    For some time Theretra celata was thought to be a subspecies of Theretra clotho (Drury, 1773) which is found over south-east Asia, but DNA studies have shown Theretra celata to be a distinct species.

    Further reading :

    Arthur G. Butler,
    On a collection of Lepidoptera from Cape York and the south-east coast of New Guinea,
    Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London,
    1877, Part 3, p. 472, No. 35.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 41.9, p. 415.

    Dru Drury,
    in John Obadiah Westwood:
    Figures and Descriptions of Foreign Insects,
    Illustrations of Exotic Entomology,
    Volume 2 (1773), p. 52, as well as Plate 28, fig. 1.

    Peter Hendry,
    Hawk Moth Theretra clotho,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Newsletter, Issue 46 (September 2007), pp. 1, 4-6.

    Wesley Jenkinson,
    Moths photographed at Obum Obum,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 73 (June 2014), p. 31,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Helen Schwencke,
    Fox Gully Bushcare Restoration -Saturday 5th February 2011,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 60 (March 2011), pp. 35-38,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 25 January 2010, 5 August 2015)