Macroglossum vacillans (Walker, [1865])
(one synonym : Macroglossa pseudogyrans Rothschild, 1894)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

(Photo: courtesy of Simon Ong, Kununurra, Western Australia)

Early instars of this Caterpillar are green or grey with a warty tail spike. The third and fourth instars are still green or grey, with a dark dorsal line and a subdorsal pale line each side, and are covered in white dots. The final instar may or may not also develop red spots on the spiracles, a dark grey head, and black legs.

The caterpillars feed on

  • Strychnine Bush (Strychnos lucida, LOGANIACEAE).

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 5 cms. They pupate in a cocoon incorporating ground debris. The pupa is brown with black spots on the spiracles. The small cremaster is flattened. The head has a keel shaped extension for the developing haustellum. The pupa has a length of about 3.5 cms.

    drawing by Walter Rothschild, listed as Macroglossa pseudogyrans,
    Notes on Sphingidae, with descriptions of new species,
    Novitates Zoologicae, Volume I, Part 1 (1894), Plate V, figure 23,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Natural History Museum Library, London.

    The adult moths of this species are brown with a faint pattern on each forewing. The hindwings are orange shading to brown at the wingtips. The wingspan is about 4 cms.

    The eggs are oval and yellow, with a length of about 1 mm. They are laid on the upper and lower surfaces of young leaves of a foodplant.

    This species is found in

  • Indonesia,

    as well as in Australia in

  • the north of Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory, and
  • Queensland.

    Further reading:

    Maxwell S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 201-204, Plates 50, 76, 89.

    Walter Rothschild,
    Notes on Sphingidae, with descriptions of new species,
    Novitates Zoologicae,
    Volume 1, Part 1 (1894), p. 68 and also Plate 5, figure 23.

    Francis Walker,
    Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 31 (1864), p. 27.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 9 December 2005, 12 December 2020)