Gardenia Bee Hawk
(one synonym is Macroglossum kingi Swinhoe, 1892)
MACROGLOSSINAE, SPHINGIDAE, BOMBYCOIDEA
(Photo: courtesy of Tom and David Sleep, Brisbane, Queensland)
These Caterpillars when they first hatch are pale green with a short black tail horn.
The caterpillars later become black, grey, or green, often with groups of black and white lines on the sides of each segment. The back of the head and the final claspers are covered in small white warts. The caterpillars have posterior horn shaped like a shallow 'S', and have white spiracles along each side outlined in red. The head colour varies from brown to green.
These caterpillars have usually been found feeding on plants in RUBIACEAE, including:
but they have also been found on :
When threatened, the caterpillars arch back, and regurgitate a green fluid. If the caterpillars are crowded, they may eat each other. The caterpillars grow to a length of about 6 cms.
The caterpillar pupates under the soil if it is friable, at a depth down to 7 cms. If the ground is hard, it forms a cocoon amongst the ground litter. The pupa dark brown, with a length of about 3.5 cms.
The adult moths are initially a dirty green colour, but 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 green colour of the thorax fades to brown in older museum specimens.
The abdomen is yellow with a black band around the first few abdominal segments, and a dark mark on the next segment. There is a black fringe around the tip of the abdomen. The wings are generally transparent except that the forewings each have a broad opaque area near the tip.
The moth has a wingspan of about 5 cms. The moths hover over flowers to feed on nectar, beating their wings so fast that they hum, and are a blur.
The eggs are pale green, smooth, and oval. They are usually laid singly on the undersides of young leaves. The eggs have a diameter of about 1 mm.
The species is normally quite rare, but there was a population explosion of the species in 2001 in Sydney.
The species is found over much of Australia, including
Further reading :
Butterflies and Moths,
Collins Eyewitness Handbooks, Sydney 1992, p. 242.
William Sharp Macleay,
in Philip Parker King :
Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia,
Volume 2 (1826), Appendix B, p. 465, No. 167.
Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA,
Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 28-31.
Maxwell S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
Hawkmoths of Australia,
Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
pp. 82-85, Plates 13, 78, 85.
Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 199.
Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
Issue 21, June 2002.
Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
A Guide to Australian Moths,
CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. vi.
(updated 18 February 2012, 26 October 2013, 2 March 2015, 12 October 2017, 24 April 2018, 15 July 2020, 17 February 2021)