Macroglossum tenebrosa (T.P. Lucas, 1891)
(one synonym : Macroglossum splendens Butler, 1892)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Macroglossum  tenebrosa
(Photo: courtesy of Gary Harris, Mission Beach, Queenlsand)

The early instars of Caterpillars of this species are greyish yellow with a yellow head and thorax, and a long black tail spike. Later instars retain the yellow head and thorax, and have a white abdomen with brown stripes, and a tail spike that curves forwards. The true legs are black and the prolegs are yellow with black tips. When threatened, the caterpillars rear the head back, revealing the true legs.

The caterpillars have been found feeding on plants from the family RUBIACEAE, including :

  • Coelospermum ( Coelospermum paniculatum )

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 6 cms. They thought to pupate in a loose cocoon in ground debris. The pupa is brown with dark spots on the spiracles, and dark partial dorsal and ventral lines. It is unusual in having a narrow disc-like extension to the head accommodating the developing haustellum. The pupa has a length of about 5 cms.

    Macroglossum  tenebrosa
    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Queensland)

    The adult moths have black forewings, each with vague variable dark brown areas. The black fades to brown in old specimens. The hindwings are black, each with some white markings. The head and thorax are brown with a green tinge. The wingspan is about 6 cms.

    Macroglossum  tenebrosa
    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Queensland)

    The eggs are pale green and oval with a length of about 1.5 mms. The eggs are laid singly under leaves of a foodplant.

    The species occurs in the south Pacific area, including:

  • Indonesia,

    and in Australia in:

  • Queensland.

    Further reading :

    Thomas P. Lucas,
    Butterflies and Moths,
    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. 199-201, Plates 49, 76, 89.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 15 June 2010, 11 March 2015, 12 December 2020, 4 September 2022)