Macroglossum micacea (Walker, 1856)
(one synonym : Macroglossa nox Newman, 1857)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

(Photo: courtesy of David and Tom Sleep)

The early instar Caterpillars of this species are green with a black forward curving tail spike.

The second and later instar caterpillars can be green or black. The black form has orange markings each side of the thorax.

The 4th and 5th instars have a white, grey, yellow or red line extending along each side of the back from thorax to the base of the tail spike, and be green, brown, or black above and/or below that line. The body can become covered in white dots, or have groups of white spots above each red encircled spiracle. The tail spike develops a sinuous shape.

The caterpillars feed on

  • Threaded Boxwood (Strychnos psilosperma, LOGANIACEAE).

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 5 cms. They pupate in a hole dig in ground or in ground debris. The pupa is brown with black spots on the spiracles and a speckled abdomen. The pupa has a length of about 4 cms.

    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The adult moths have dark brown forewings sometimes with indistinct paler bands across them. They have even darker brown hind wings each with two pale yellow areas by the hind margin, and a white band along the costa. The abdomen is covered in dark brown hairs except for narrow white areas between the joints. The moths have a wingspan of about 5 cms.

    (Specimen: courtesy of Sandra Tuszynska, Wilkesdale, Queensland)

    The moths fly in the daytime, hovering over flowers to suck the nectar.

    The eggs are pale green and oval, and laid singly on foodplants. The eggs have a length of about 1.3 mms.

    The species is found as the subspecies albibase Rothschild, 1905, in

  • Solomons,

    and as the subspecies micacea in

  • New Guinea,

    and in Australia in

  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    (Photo: courtesy of Graeme Cocks, Townsville, Queensland)

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 40.10, pp. 71, 413.

    Maxwell S. Moulds, James P. Tuttle and David A. Lane.
    Hawkmoths of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series, Volume 13 (2020),
    pp. 182-185, Plates 43, 76, 89.

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

    Francis Walker,
    Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 8 (1856), pp. 96-97, No. 21.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 8 November 2011, 20 February 2015, 21 November 2019, 13 December 2020)