Acosmeryx anceus (Stoll, 1781)
(one synonym : Zonilia mixtura Walker, 1865)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

second instar
(Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Julatten, Queensland)

The early instar Caterpillars of this species are green with a very dark red tail horn that sometimes curves forwards. Later the caterpillars develop pale diagonal stripes along each side below a broad off-white line, bordered above by dark red. In the fifth (final) instar, the horn on the tail curves backwards and, although pointed, often is not tapered.

fourth instar
(Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Julatten, Queensland)

The caterpillars have been found feeding on

  • Slender Grape ( Cayratia clematidea, VITACEAE ).

    close-up of head
    (Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Julatten, Queensland)

    The mature caterpillar grows to a length up to 8 cms. To find a suitable pupation site, it often goes walkabout, walking up to 50 metres. The pupa is plain dark brown with sharply-edged overlapping segments, and is formed in a loose silk cocoon in a curled leaf in ground debris. The pupa has a length of about 4.5 cms.

    (Photo: courtesy of Domf, Port Douglas, Queensland)

    The adult moths of this species are usually brown, with forewings that each have a general blotchy light and dark pattern, and an outlined white spot near the centre. The forewing margins each have two cusps. The hindwing margins have a concavity near the tornus.

    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Cairns, Queensland)

    The moths have a wingspan of about 8 cms.

    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Cairns, Queensland)

    The undersides are similar to the upper surfaces.

    The eggs are pale green and oval, and laid singly on a leaf of a foodplant. The eggs have a length up to about 2 mms.

    The species is found as various subspecies across south-east Asia, including :

  • Borneo,
  • Hong Kong,
  • India,
  • Papua,
  • Philippines,

    as well as the subspecies anceus in Australia in

  • north Queensland .

    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay, Cairns, Queensland)

    Reports from other areas and states may be misidentifications of the similar but genetically distinct species Acosmeryx cinnamomea.

    drawing by Caspar Stoll,

    Papillons exotiques, De uitlandsche kapellen, voorkomende in de drie waereld,
    Volume 4 (1782), Plate CCCLV, fig. A,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 41.6, p. 413.

    Caspar Stoll,
    Papillons exotiques,
    in Pieter Cramer:
    De uitlandsche kapellen, voorkomende in de drie waereld,
    Volume 4 (1782), p. 124, and also Plate 355, fig. A.

    Peter Hendry,
    A Night at Ray's,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 57 (June 2010), pp. 30-32,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Max S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 49-52, Plates 4, 80, 84.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 196.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 2 May 2011, 9 February 2015, 28 February 2016, 28 May 2017, 14 February 2019, 21 May 2020)