Hyles livornicoides (T.P. Lucas, 1892)
Australian Striped Hawk Moth
(one synonym : Phryxus australasiae Tutt, 1904)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Hyles livornicoides
(Photo: courtesy of Bev Bryceson, Oodnadatta Track, South Australia)

These Caterpillars range in colour from green to black. They have eyespots along the sides joined by a pale line, and another pale line down the back.

Hyles livornicoides
(Photo: courtesy of Bev Bryceson, Oodnadatta Track, South Australia)

The caterpillars have a rough black but harmless spike on the tail. They have a pair of pale arcs on the last segment below the spike. The caterpillars are very gregarious, sometimes living in dense colonies.

Hyles livornicoides
(Photo: courtesy of Helen Cross, Windorah, western Queensland)

The caterpillars have been reported to feed on :

  • Lucerne ( Medicago, FABACEAE ),
  • Hogweed ( Boerhavia diffusa, NYCTAGINACEAE ),
  • Tar Vine ( Boerhavia schomburgkiana, NYCTAGINACEAE ),
  • Pigweed ( Portulaca oleracea, PORTULACACEAE ),
  • Grape Vine ( Vitis vinifera, VITACEAE ), and
  • Bullshead Burr ( Tribulus terrestris, ZYGOPHYLLACEAE ).

    Hyles livornicoides
    black form
    (Photo: copyright of Uwe Path, Alice Springs, Northern Territory)

    The caterpillars were a food source for Aborigines. Aborigines starved the caterpillars for a day or two before roastng them. The cooked larvae were said to have a pleasant savoury taste and could be stored for a long time.

    Hyles livornicoides
    (Photo: courtesy of Jenny Whiting, Pennant Hills, New South Wales)

    The caterpillars burrow into the soil to pupate.

    Hyles livornicoides
    (Photo: courtesy of David and Tom Sleep)

    The adult moth has brown forewings with white markings, and brown hindwings, each with a broad diagonal pink stripe. The wingspan is about 6 cms.

    Hyles livornicoides
    (Photo: courtesy of David and Tom Sleep)

    The species is found all over mainland Australia, including:

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

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 16.8, p. 414.

    Thomas P. Lucas,
    On 34 new species of Australian Lepidoptera, with additional localities,
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland,
    Volume 8 (1892), pp. 73-74.

    Peter B. McQuillan, Jan A. Forrest, David Keane, & Roger Grund,
    Caterpillars, moths, and their plants of Southern Australia,
    Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc., Adelaide (2019), pp. 4-5, 101.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
    Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 28-29.

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

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 167.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 7 April 2013, 6 April 2016)