Daphnis placida (Walker, 1856)
(one synonym : Choerocampa hesperus Boisduval, 1875)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Daphnis placida
early instar, magnified
(Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland)

The early instars Caterpillars of this species are green, and have a straight black spike on the last abdominal segment.

Daphnis placida
middle instar
(Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland)

The middle instar caterpillars are decorated along each side with a spotty blue stripe below a broad vague yellow stripe.

Daphnis placida
mature caterpillar, yellow form
(Photo: courtesy of Jan MacDonald, Finch Hatton, Queensland)

The mature final instars have a strongly back-curving black-tipped yellowish horn, which is actually quite harmless.

Daphnis placida
mature caterpillar, green form
(Photo: courtesy of Lyle Radford, Ipswich, Queensland)

Mature caterpillars can be yellow, green or brown, but with the same spotty blue stripes now below a narrow orange or brown stripe.

Daphnis placida
mature caterpillar, brown form
(Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland)

The caterpillars have been found feeding on various plants in APOCYNACEAE, including

  • Fever Bark ( Alstonia constricta ),
  • Kilner's Ochrosia ( Neisosperma kilneri ),
  • Kopsia ( Ochrosia elliptica ), and
  • Banana Bush ( Tabernaemontana pandacaqui ),

    as well as

  • Muskwood ( Alangiumm villosum, CORNACEAE ).

    Daphnis placida
    close-up of head and thorax
    (Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland)

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 8 cms. It pupates in the ground litter in a flimsy cocoon covered in bits of dead leaf.

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

    The pupa is brown, with a dark stripe running from back of the thorax over the head and developing haustellum, and along under the thorax. The pupa has a length of about 5 cms.

    Daphnis placida

    The adult moth has a complex pattern of light and dark brown on the wings, and a white-edged black bar across the first abdominal segment.

    Daphnis placida
    (Photo: courtesy of Tom and David Sleep, Brisbane, Queensland)

    The adult differs from that of Daphnis moorei in having a relatively smaller dark basal area on each forewing The moth has a wingspan of about 7 cms.

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

    The eggs are oval with a length up to about 2 mms. They are initially white turning orange a hatching approaches. The eggs are usually laid singly on the underside of a leaf of a foodplant.

    The species is found as several subspecies over south-east Asia, including :

  • Borneo,
  • New Guinea,
  • Thailand,

    and the subspecies placida in Australia in

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

    Daphnis placida
    Fiji, 2001

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pls. 16.2, 29.5, pp. 71, 412.

    Peter Hendry,
    The Hawk Moth Daphnis placida (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae: Macroglossinae),
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 71 (December 2013), pp. 1, 4-5,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Maxwell S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 112-115, Plates 22, 79, 86.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 197.

    Francis Walker,
    Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 8 (1856), p. 186, No. 8.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 8 April 2011, 17 December 2013, 9 August 2019, 20 May 2020)