Double Headed Hawk Moth
(one synonym : Sphynx[sic] castaneus Perry, 1811)
SMERINTHINAE, SPHINGIDAE, BOMBYCOIDEA
plain green form
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)
This Caterpillar presents a puzzle : deciding which end is the head ?
Its real head is an orange conical structure, but on its tail are two large raised black knobs.
These look like a pair of large eyes, so that an observer (and presumably a predator) finds it difficult to determine which end is actually the head, hence its common name.
The rest of the caterpillar is green or yellow, often with yellow diagonal stripes, sometimes with purplish lateral markings, and is covered in soft short pale spines.
The caterpillar feeds on various plants in PROTEACEAE, such as :
The caterpillar grows to a length of about 10 cms. To pupate it burrows into the soil to a depth down to 4 cms. The pupa is brown, with a length of about 7 cms.
The adult moth is yellow and brown with broad wavy markings, and is large, with a wingspan of about 13 cms.
The species occurs in
The eggs are green and oval, with a length of about 3 mm. As they near hatching, they become yellow, and develop a red encircling band. The eggs are laid singly on the underside of a leaf of a foodplant.
Further reading :
Butterflies and Moths,
Collins Eyewitness Handbooks, Sydney 1992, p. 240.
Life History Notes on the Moth Coequosa triangularis (Donovan),
Issue 55 (December 2009), pp. 19-20,
Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.
Ian F.B. Common,
Moths of Australia,
Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 16.1, p. 412.
General Illustration of Entomology,
An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of New Holland, New Zealand, New Guinea, Otaheite and other Islands in the Indian, Southern and Pacific Oceans,
London (1803), Part 1, p. 138, and also Plate 33, fig. 2
Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
Newsletter, Issue 49 (June 2008).
Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA,
Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 30-31.
Maxwell S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
Hawkmoths of Australia,
Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
pp. 103-108, Plates 20, 75, 86.
Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
A Guide to Australian Moths,
CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 31.
(updated 15 June2010, 15 December 2013, 15 July 2020, 6 September 2022)