Macroglossum corythus (Walker, 1856)
(one synonym : Macroglossa pylene Felder, 1861)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Macroglossum corythus
Macroglossum corythus corythus
(Photo: courtesy of Shipher Wu, Taiwan)

Early instars of this Caterpillar green with a pale brown head, a black forward curving tail spike, and a finely broken white stripe along each side.

Later instars become dark grey, speckled with pale dots, and have a green and/or orange circle around each spiracle edged below by a pale streak. The tail spike develops a pale yellow granulation, and still curves upward in the later instars.

The caterpillar has been reported to feed on various plants from RUBIACEAE, including :

  • Medicine Bush (Coelospermum reticulatum),
  • Sea Randa (Guettarda speciosa),
  • Noni (Morinda citrifolia), and
  • Chinese Fevervine (Paederia scandens).

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 7 cms. Pupation occurs in a loose cocoon amongst the ground debris. The pupa is brown with a row of dark spots along each side, and an incomplete black line along the back and the underside. The pupa has a length of about 4.5 cms.

    Macroglossum corythus
    Macroglossum corythus corythus
    (Photo: courtesy of Yakovlev Alexey, Malaysia)

    The adult moths have brown forewings with a faint sinuous pattern. The hindwings are dark brown, each with a pale line along the costa, and a broad diagonal yellow band. The body is brown with a bunch of hairs on the tail. The wingspan is about 5 cms.

    Macroglossum corythus
    Macroglossum corythus corythus
    (Photo: courtesy of the Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The eggs are pale yellowish green, and oval with a length of about 1.5 mms. The eggs are laid singly on the undersides of foodplant leaves.

    The species is found as the subspecies corythus across south-east Asia, from the Cocos Islands to New Caledonia, including

  • Borneo,
  • China,
  • India,
  • Malaysia,
  • Taiwan.

    The adults of subspecies approximans T.P. Lucas, 1891 can be distinguished from the other subspecies as the hindwing yellow band does not reach the costal pale line, and the tail tuft has orange hairs.

    This subspecies occurs in Australia in

  • Northern Territory, and
  • Queensland.

    Further reading:

    Baron Cajetan von Felder,
    Lepidopterorum Amboinensium a Dre. L. Doleschall annis 1856-58 collectorum species novae,
    Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien,
    Volume 43, Part 1 (1861), p. 29, No. 62.

    Thomas P. Lucas,
    Descriptions of two new Butterflies and nine new Sphingidae or Hawk moths found in Queensland,
    The Queenslander (Newspaper),
    Saturday 2 May 1891, p. 834.

    Maxwell S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 169-172, Plates 39, 76, 88.

    Francis Walker,
    Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 8 (1856), pp. 92-93.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 2 December 2009, 7 May 2023)