Macroglossum hirundo (Boisduval, 1832)
(previously known as Macroglossa hirundo)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

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

The caterpillars of this species initially are green with a black forward curving spine on the tail.

brown form
(Photo: courtesy of Craig Nieminski, Darwin, Northern Territory)

Later they can become brown or green, covered in small white dots. There is a dark dorsal line which may be fragmented into a line of dashes. A pair of pale dorso-lateral lines run from the head to the tail. They also have a dark brown spine on the tail (which is quite harmless). They grow to a length of about 6 cms.

They feed on various members of the RUBIACEAE family, including :

  • Alahee ( Canthium odoratum ),
  • Dye Plant ( Coelospermum reticulatum ),
  • Mirror Bush ( Coprosma repens ),
  • Sweet Morinda ( Morinda jasminoides ),
  • Ant Plant ( Myrmecodia beccarii ),
  • Pavetta ( Pavetta australiensis ), and
  • Hairy Psychotria ( Psychotria loniceroides ).

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

    The pupa is brown with a row of black spots along each side.

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

    The adult moths have patterned grey or brown forewings, with a pale bar across the middle of each one. The hindwings are yellow with a broad black border. The moth has a wingspan of about 4 cms.

    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The eggs are spherical and off-white. They are laid singly under the leaf of a foodplant.

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

    The species is found as various subspecies in:

  • Cook Islands,
  • Fiji,
  • Papua,
  • Society Islands,

    and as the subspecies errans Walker, 1856, in Australia in

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

    Fiji, 2001

    Further reading :

    Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Dechauffour de Boisduval,
    Faune Entomologique de L'Ocean Pacifique,
    Voyage de Decouvertes de la Corvette l'Astrolabe,
    Division 7, Part 1 : Lepidopteres (1832), pp. 188-189.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 16.3, p. 413.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 202.

    Francis Walker,
    Lepidoptera Heterocera: Sphingidae,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 8 (1856), p. 96, No. 20.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 12 September 2011, 3 March 2015)