Macroglossum prometheus (Boisduval, 1875)
(one synonym : Macroglossa inconspicuata Rothschild, 1894)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

(Photo: courtesy of Michael Sawyer, Whyanbeel, Queensland)

The Caterpillars of this species are initially green, with a long black tail spike, the tip of which curves slightly forwards. Later instars can be grey and brown, speckled with pale dots, sometimes with a set of diagonal dark lines on the side of each segment. The caterpillars have a faint dark dorsal line, and a pair of pale lateral lines which start on the head and extend to the base of the tail spike. Some specimens have reddish spots along these pale lines, and also have red spots on the spiracles.

(Photo: courtesy of Carol & Trevor Deane, Whyanbeel, Queensland)

The caterpillars have been found feeding on plants in RUBIACEAE, including

  • Sweet Morinda (Gynochthodes jasminoides), and
  • Noni (Morinda citrifolia).

    (Photo: courtesy of Michael Sawyer, Whyanbeel, Queensland)

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 5 cms. Pupation occurs in joined dead leaves on the ground. The pupa is a patchy brown, with a black dorsal stripe on the thorax, a row of black spots along each side of the abdomen, and a black incomplete ventral line. The pupa has a length of about 3.5 cms.

    Photo: courtesy of Buck Richardson, from
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art

    The adult moth is brown with a grey patchy pattern on the forewings. Each hindwing is crossed by a broad orange bar. There is a broad tuft of brown hair on the tip of the abdomen. The underside of the body and the wings is pale grey. The wingspan is about 4.5 cms.

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

    The eggs are oval, and pale yellow initially. Their length is about 1.3 mm. They are laid singly on a foodplant.

    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Queensland)

    The species is found over much of south-east Asia, including

  • Borneo,
  • China,
  • Christmas Island,
  • Java,
  • Malaysia,
  • Philippines.

    The subspecies lineata Lucas, 1891, has been found in Australia in

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

    Further reading :

    Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Dechauffour de Boisduval,
    in: Boisduval & Guenée,
    Histoire Naturelle des Insectes,
    Species Général des Lépidoptéres Hétérocéres,
    Volume 1 (1875), p. 355, No. 37.

    David Lane,
    An Interesting Record of the Hawkmoth Macroglossum prometheus lineatum Lucas (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) from the Northern Territory,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 54 (September 2009), pp. 10-12.

    Thomas P. Lucas,
    Descriptions of two new Butterflies and nine new Sphingidae or Hawk moths found in Queensland,
    The Queenslander (Newspaper),
    Saturday 2 May 1891, p. 834.

    Maxwell S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 190-193, Plates 46, 76, 89.

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

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (created 15 July 2003, updated 15 July 2024)