Coenotes eremophilae (T.P. Lucas, 1891)
(one synonym : Protoparce minimus Miskin, 1891)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

The first instar Caterpillars of this species are orange with a black head and a straight black tail spike.

Coenotes eremophilae
late instar, plain black form
(Photo: courtesy of John Collins, Kimberley, Western Australia)

Later instars are grey or black, sometimes speckled with pale dots, with an orange line that is sometimes broken along the back, The caterpillars usually also develop two pale yellow stripes along each side one above and one below the row of red or orange spiracles. On the tail, they have an entirely black slightly backward curving horn. The head and prothorax have black and white bands.

Coenotes eremophilae
threat posture, late instar, grey spotted form
(Photo: courtesy of Barb Gilfedder, Central Australia)

The caterpillars feed for preference on plants from the familiy MYOPORACEAE such as :

  • Bowman's Fuchsia Bush ( Eremophila bowmanii ),
  • Rock Fuchsia Bush ( Eremophila freelingii ),
  • Warty Fuchsia Bush, ( Eremophila latrobei ),
  • Weeping Emu Bush, ( Eremophila longifolia ),
  • Budda ( Eremophila mitchellii ),
  • Turpentine Bush ( Eremophila sturtii ),
  • Ellangowan ( Myoporum deserti ), and
  • Boobialla ( Myoporum montanum ),

    but also have been found on a variety of other plants, including :

  • Philippine violet ( Barleria cristata, ACANTHACEAE ),
  • Silver Bush ( Ptilotus obovatus, AMARANTHACEAE ),
  • Conkerberry ( Carissa spinarum, APOCYNACEAE ),
  • Helicopter Tree ( Gyrocarpus americanus, HERNANDIACEAE ),
  • Lolly Bush ( Clerodendrum floribundum, LAMIACEAE ),
  • Yellow Hibiscus ( Hibiscus panduriformis, MALVACEAE ),
  • Sesame ( Sesamum indicum, PEDALIACEAE ),
  • Sweet Quandong ( Santalum acuminatum, SANTALACEAE ),
  • Corkwood ( Duboisia myoporoides , SOLANACEAE ), and
  • Ratstail ( Stachytarpheta cayennensis , VERBENACEAE ).

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 6 cms. They burrow under the soil to pupate in a hardened cell at a depth of about 10 cms. The pupa has a length of about 3 cms.

    Coenotes eremophilae
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The adult moths have streaky fawn wings, and have a pattern of diagonal and transverse dark marks on the abdomen. The moths have a wingspan of about 6 cms.

    The species is found mainly over the inland northern half of Australia, including:

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

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 40.7, p. 411.

    Thomas P. Lucas,
    Butterflies and Moths,
    Descriptions of two new Butterflies and nine new Sphingidae or Hawk moths found in Queensland,
    The Queenslander (Newspaper),
    Saturday 9 May 1891, p. 894.

    Thomas P. Lucas,
    On Queensland and other Australian Lepidoptera, with Descriptions of new Species,
    Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales,
    Series 2, Volume 6 (1892), pp. 277-278.

    William Henry Miskin,
    A Revision of Australian Sphingidae,
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland,
    Volume 8, Part 1 (1891), p. 24, No. 40.

    Maxwell S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 93-98, Plates 17, 78, 85.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 2 December 2009, 1 November 2013, 23 December 2014, 23 February 2015, 9 December 2020)