Cephonodes hylas (Linnaeus, 1771)
Coffee Hawk Moth
(one synonym : Sesia cunninghami Walker, 1856)
MACROGLOSSINAE ,   SPHINGIDAE ,   BOMBYCOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans,
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley


Central African Republic
, 1965

This Caterpillar has a raised shield directly behind the head that is covered in short blunt spines. There is a single substantial spine on the tail that is straight or curves slightly backwards. In Australia, the caterpillar feeds on the native plants:

  • Banana Bush ( Ervatamia angustisepala, APOCYNACEAE ),
  • Alahe'e ( Canthium odoratum, RUBIACEAE ),
  • Butterfly Bush ( Pavetta australiensis, RUBIACEAE ),

    as well as the introduced:

  • Gardenia ( Gardenia jasminoides, RUBIACEAE ).

    Overseas, it is a pest on :

  • Coffee ( Coffea arabica, RUBIACEAE ).


    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The adult moths soon lose the scales from the wings, leaving them transparent. The moths then resemble Bumble Bees, hence the name 'Bee Hawks' for the moths in this genus Cephonodes. The abdomen is yellow with a black band around one abdominal segment, and a dark dorsal mark on the next segment. The wings are generally transparent except that the forewings each have a slightly broader opaque area near the tip. This species has a wingspan of about 4 cms.

    The species is found as various subspecies across the tropics including :

  • China,
  • Hong Kong,
  • India,
  • Russia, and
  • Tanzania.

    The subspecies australis Kitching & Cadiou, 2000, occurs in:

  • Queensland.


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 40.12, p. 414.

    Ian J. Kitching & Jean-Marie Cadiou,
    Hawkmoths of the World,
    The Natural History Museum, London,
    Comstock Publishing Associates, 2000, p. 89.

    Carl Linnaeus,
    Generum editionis VI. et specierum editionis II,
    Mantissa Plantarum,
    Volume 2 (1771), p. 539.


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    (updated 26 December 2009, 15 February 2015)