Hawk Moths (Family Sphingidae)
Hawk moths are large to very large moths with stout, torpedo-shaped bodies. They are fast, agile fliers. The adults feed on nectar with their long proboscis usually while hovering. Most fly at night or at dusk but the clearwing hawk moths, species of Cephanodes, fly during the day. There are about 60 Australian species of hawk moths.
The large caterpillars of hawk moths usually have a distinctive stiff horn or tail on the back end. Many species have green or brown caterpillars with bold diagonal bands that cross the body. These help with camouflage, disrupting the outline of the body. Many also have prominent eye spots which may help deter predators.
Hawk moth caterpillars feed on a wide range of native and introduced plants including Cunjevoi (Alocasia macrorrhizos), Balsam (Impatiens spp.), cultivated grapes (Vitis vinifera) and their native relatives (Cayratia and Cissus spp.), and ornamental gardenias (Gardenia augusta).
The caterpillar and adult of the Doubleheaded Hawk Moth. The caterpillar of this species is unusual because the rear end (to the left of the top image) lacks a tail and resembles a head complete with a false eye. The caterpillar and adult of the Australian Privet Hawk Moth Psilogramma menephron. The caterpillar and adult of the Impatiens Hawk Moth, Theretra oldenlandiae.
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