Hippotion johanna (Kirby, 1877)
(formerly known as Chaerocampa johanna)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

(Photo: courtesy of Dominic Funnell, Caravonica, Queensland)

The Caterpillars of this species are initially green, and later instars may be brown or green, with a dark dorsal line from head to tailspike.. On each side of each abdominal segment, the caterpillars have a yellow eyespot edged dorsally by black and circled by black. The eyespots on the first abdominal segment are larger, with an interior brown or orange spot, and which in the last instar develop several white spots. The tail horn is straight, and is red or black, in the third instar growing to a length of 6 mms. In later instars it shrinks to a length of only 3 mms.

The caterpillar has been found feeding on

  • Slender Knotweed (Persicaria decipiens, POLYGONACEAE)

    The caterpillar grows to a length of up to 8 cms. The pupa is formed in a loose cocoon amongst ground debris. The pupa is brown withs a dark line along the back and the underside, and has some dark spots along the sides. The pupa has a length of about 4.5 cms.

    The adult moths have patterned brown or grey forewings, and yellow or orange hindwings with a brown border. The forewings each have a recurve on both the hind and outer margins. The hindwings each have a recurve on the outer margin near the tornus. The abdomen has four white markings along each side. The moth has a wingspan of about 6 cms.

    The species occurs in

  • Queensland.

    This species is similar to, and was thought to be a subspecies of Hippotion brennus, particularly as the genitalia are the same. However the caterpillars and the adult moths can be reliably distinguished, so it is thought to be a distinct species.

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 16.11.

    William Forsell Kirby,
    Notes on the new or rare Sphingidae in the Museum of the Royal Dublin Society,
    Transactions of the Entomological Society of London,
    1877, Part 3, pp. 236, 241-242.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (written 4 August 2015)