Daphnis moorei (W.J. Macleay, 1866)
(formerly known as Darapsa moorei)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

(Photo: courtesy of Glenn White, Townsville, Queensland).

Most instars of this caterpillar are green with a brown backward curving tailhorn, and a pair of white or red and yellow dorso-lateral stripes. Different instars have various coloured markings along the sides, including a blue eyespot each side of the metathorax. The spiracles are small and dark, each with a vague pale halo. The final instar is a blotchy pale reddish-brown.

(Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland).

The caterpillar feeds on various plants in the family RUBIACEAE, including

  • Kadam ( Neolamarckia cadamba ),
  • Zebra Wood ( Guettarda speciosa ), and
  • Leichhardt Tree ( Nauclea orientalis ).

    camouflaged cocoon
    (Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland).

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 10 cms. It pupates in the ground litter in a flimsy cocoon covered in bits of dead leaf.

    two pupae
    (Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland).

    The pupae are long and thin, with a length of about 7 cms. The pupae are brown, each with two dark lines: one ventral, one dorsal.

    (Photo: courtesy of Buck Richardson, Kuranda, Queensland)

    The adult moth is brown with complex patterns of light and shade on the wings, and a narrow white band across the first abdominal segment.

    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Kimberley, Western Australia)

    The adult differs from that of Daphnis placida in having a relatively larger basal dark area on each forewing. The wingspan can be up to 12 cms.

    The eggs are yellow and egg-shaped, with a length of about 2 mms. They are laid singly under leaves of a foodplant.

    The species occurs in

  • Papua,

    as well as in Australia in

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory, and
  • Queensland.

    This species was originally thought to be a subspecies of Daphnis hypothous Cramer, 1780. Recently it has been shown to be a distinct species.

    Further reading:

    William John Macleay,
    Transactions of the Entomological Society of New South Wales,
    Volume 1, October 1866, p. LV, No. 24.

    Maxwell S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 110-112, Plates 21, 79, 86.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 7 November 2011, 4 August 2015, 7 April 2019, 3 March 2020, 16 July 2021)