Acherontia lachesis

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Acherontia lachesis
Acherontia lachesis.jpg
Acherontia lachesis, an old bleached collection specimen showing none of the yellow, orange and red colours of fresh specimens
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Sphingidae
Genus: Acherontia
Species: A. lachesis
Binomial name
Acherontia lachesis
(Fabricius, 1798)
Synonyms
  • Sphinx lachesis Fabricius, 1798
  • Spectrum charon Billberg, 1820
  • Acherontia sojejimae Matsumura, 1908
  • Acherontia satanas Boisduval, 1836
  • Acherontia morta Hübner, 1819
  • Acherontia lethe Westwood, 1847
  • Acherontia circe Moore, 1858
  • Manduca lachesis atra Huwe, 1895
  • Acherontia lachesis submarginalis Dupont, 1941
  • Acherontia lachesis radiata Niepelt, 1931
  • Acherontia lachesis pallida Dupont, 1941
  • Acherontia lachesis fuscapex Bryk, 1944

Acherontia lachesis is a large (up to 13 cm wingspan) Sphingid moth found in India and much of the Oriental region, one of the three species of Death's-head Hawkmoth, also known as the Bee Robber. It is nocturnal, and very fond of honey; they can mimic the scent of honey bees so that they can enter a hive unharmed to get honey. Their tongue, which is stout and very strong, enables them to pierce the wax cells and suck the honey out. This species occurs throughout almost the entire Oriental region, from India, Pakistan and Nepal to the Philippines, and from southern Japan and the southern Russian Far East to Indonesia, where it attacks colonies of several different honey bee species. It has recently become established on the Hawaiian Islands.[1]

A live Death's head Hawkmoth from Arunachal Pradesh, India
larva (2) and pupa (2a)of Acherontia lachesis

Development[edit]

Eggs are laid on a variety of hostplants, belonging to the families Solanaceae, Verbenaceae, Fabaceae, Oleaceae, and Bignoniaceae, among others. Mature larvae can attain 125mm long, and occur in green, yellow, and brownish grey color forms (most commonly grey), with oblique body stripes and a prickly tail horn that is curled at the extreme tip. When molested the caterpillar throws the head and anterior segments of the body from side to side, at the same time making a rapidly repeated clicking noise, which appears to be produced by the mandibles. The larva pupates by pushing its head into the earth, burying itself, and making an ovoid chamber about 15 cm below the surface in which it sheds its skin.

Subspecies[edit]

  • Acherontia lachesis lachesis
  • Acherontia lachesis diehli Eitschberger, 2003