Gnathothlibus eras (Boisduval, 1832)
Aussie White-brow Hawk Moth
(formerly known as Deilephila eras)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Gnathothlibus eras
brown form
(Photo: courtesy of Susan Foyle, Sutherland, New South Wales)

The Caterpillar of this species can be brown with a dark line along each side, or green with a red line along each side.

Gnathothlibus eras
green form
(Photo: courtesy of Jean Gundry, Queensland)

The line is interrupted by a series of eyespots of varying sizes: large at each end tapering to smaller in the middle. The claspers are black. The caterpillar also has on the tail a brown curved horn which is strongly curved backwards nearly into a semicircle, and ends in a black point.

Gnathothlibus eras
(Photo: courtesy of Fiona G., Brisbane, Queensland)

When disturbed, the caterpillar curls its head down onto its first two pairs of legs, and displays the third pair. The caterpillar can also exude liquid from its mouth, and has even been heard to give a squeal.

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

It feeds on a wide variety of plants, including the crops :

  • Sweet Potato ( Ipomoea batatas, CONVOLVULACEAE ),
  • Cultivated Grapes ( Vitis vinifera, VITACEAE ),

    as well as :

  • Red Beech ( Dillenia alata, DILLENIACEAE ),
  • Redclaws ( Escallonia macrantha, GROSSULARIACEAE ),
  • Australian Native Lasiandra ( Melastoma affine, MELASTOMATACEAE ),
  • Star Cluster ( Pentas lanceolata, RUBIACEAE ),
  • Hairy Water Vine ( Cayratia acris, VITACEAE ), and
  • Bandicoot Berry ( Leea indica, VITACEAE ).

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

    The caterpillar pupates in a nest of curled leaves joined with silk. The pupa is brown with a series of black spots along each side of the abdomen.

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

    The adults have brown forewings with a faint pattern of light and dark markings

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

    The hindwings are bright yellow with dark margins. The moths have a wingspan of about 7 cms.

    Gnathothlibus eras
    egg, magnified

    The eggs are green and spherical. They are laid singly on foodplant foliage.

    Gnathothlibus eras
    Samoa 1972, listed as Chromis erotus

    The species occurs in the south pacific, including in

  • Cook Islands,
  • Tahiti,

    and also in Australia in :

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

    Gnathothlibus eras
    showing underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Scott Gavins, Fraser Coast, Queensland)

    Gnathothlibus eras was considered to be a subspecies of Gnathothlibus erotus (Cramer, 1777) which occurs across Australasia and the south Pacific, until DNA evidence showed that Gnathothlibus eras was a distinct species.

    Further reading :

    Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Dechauffour de Boisduval,
    Faune Entomologique de L'Ocean Pacifique: Lépidoptères,
    Voyage de Decouvertes de la Corvette l'Astrolabe,
    Division 7, Part 1 (1832), pp. 185-186, No. 4.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pls. 16.7, 29.3, pp. 71, 412.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
    Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 28-29.

    Buck Richardson,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2008, p. 36.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 201 (listed as Gnathothlibus erotus).

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 169.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 1 March 2010, 26 December 2014, 4 August 2015, 28 February 2016)