Theretra indistincta (Butler, 1877)
(one synonym : Chaerocampa cleopatra Miskin, 1891)
MACROGLOSSINAE,   SPHINGIDAE,   BOMBYCOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans,
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley


last instar, green form
(Photo : courtesy of Tom and David Sleep, Queensland)

The early instars of these Caterpillars are green with a long black forward curving tail spike. Middle instars develop a set of seven blueish spots in white circles along each side.

The last instar may stay green or become a patchy brown, both forms with a row of white encircled green spots with white centres along each side, The tail spike becomes a stout red horn with a black tip, curving backwards.


last instar, patchy brown form
(Photo : courtesy of Tom and David Sleep, Queensland)

The caterpillars rest by day along a rib under a leaf of the foodplant. The caterpillars have been found feeding on the foliage of various plants in VITACEAE, including:

  • Slender Grape (Cayratia clematidea),
  • Kangaroo Vine (Cissus antarctica),
  • Bandicoot Berry (Leea reniformis), and
  • Cultivated Grape Vine (Vitis vinifera).


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

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 9 cms. It pupates in a loose cocoon incorporating debris on the ground. The pupa is brown, with a black spot on each side of each segment, and vague dark lines along the back and along the keel. The pupa has a length of about 6 cms.


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

    The adult moths of this species are brown. The forewings each have a small dark spot near the middle, and a faint dark subterminal line. The hindwings are darker but each has a pale margin. Uniquely, the moths have pink antennae. The wingspan is about 10 cms.

    The eggs are oval and green, and laid singly, usually under leaves of a foodplant. The eggs have a length of about 2 mms.


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

    Specimens of this species have been caught in

  • New Guinea,
  • Sulawesi,

    and in Australia in

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


    Further reading :

    Arthur G. Butler,
    On some African and Australian Lepidoptera,
    The Annals and Magazine of Natural History,
    Series 4, Volume 19 (1877), p. 460.

    Maxwell S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 241-244, Plates 62, 81, 91.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 203.


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    (updated 5 April 2006, 16 February 2014, 25 April 2020)