Chelacnema ochra (Tuttle, Moulds, & Lane, 2012)
(formerly known as Hopliocnema ochra)
SMERINTHINAE,   SPHINGIDAE,   BOMBYCOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Chelacnema ochra
female
(Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Mt Magnet, Western Australia)

Early instar Caterpillars of this species are green with a short stiff dark spike on the tail. Middle instars develop a pair of short blunt horns on the head. Later instars develop a white line along each side, and have a rounded head. The body colour of the last instar may be brown.

The caterpillars have been found feeding on plants from the familiy MYOPORACEAE including :

  • Broad-cupped Emu Bush ( Eremophila platycalyx ), and
  • Wills' Emu Bush ( Eremophila willsii ).

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 5 cms. To pupate: the caterpillars burrow into the ground to a depth of sometimes more than 10 cms. The pupa is brown with a sharp point on the tail. The pupa has a length of about 2.5 cms.

    The adult moths have grey forewings, each with a small central circular black-edged pale orange spot, and chequered margins. The hindwings are plain off-white with dark veins and chequered edges. The female, on each abdominal segment, has a pair of black-edged ovals The male has similar markings on the first few abdominal segments, but the final segments are black. The wingspan of of the female is about 6 cms. The wingspan of of the male is about 4.5 cms. The adults have no haustellum.

    Chelacnema ochra
    male
    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Mt Magnet, Western Australia)

    The species is found in

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

    The adult moths are similar to those of Hopliocnema brachycera, but the outlined circular forewing spots of Chelacnema ochra have pale orange centres, whereas those of Hopliocnema brachycera have pale grey centres.


    Further reading :

    Max S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 88-91, 151, Plates 15, 78, 85.

    James P. Tuttle, Max s. Moulds, & David A. Lane,
    A Review of the hawk moth genus Hopliocnema Rothschild and Jordan, with the description of two new species (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae),
    The European Entomologist,
    Volume 4, Part 2 (2012), p. 71.


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    (written 11 February 2020)