|Female in Mangaon, Maharashtra, India|
|Fully grown caterpillar|
|Distribution: blue = summer, green = year round|
Daphnis nerii is a large hawk-moth found in wide areas of Africa, Asia and certain Hawaiian Islands where it was introduced to control invasive introduced oleanders as well as to pollinate the endangered Brighamia insignis and Brighamia rockii which had previously had to be hand pollinated. It is a migratory species, flying to parts of eastern and southern Europe during the summer, particularly Turkey.
The adults feed on nectar of a great variety of flowers. They have a preference for fragrant species like petunia, jasmine and honeysuckle. They are especially active in the twilight time, hovering over the flowers after sunset.
The caterpillars feed mainly on oleander (Nerium oleander) leaves, a highly toxic plant, to which the caterpillars are immune. They also may feed on most other plants of the dogbane family, such as Adenium obesum, Tabernaemontana divaricata and Alstonia scholaris in India. They also eat unbloomed flowers of Tabernaemontana divaricata at night.
Newly hatched oleander hawk-moth larvae are three to four millimeters in length, bright yellow, and have a black, elongated "horn" on the rear of the body. As they get older, the larvae become green to brown with a large blue-and-white eyespot near the head and a yellow "horn" on the rear. There is also a white band along the side of the body, with a scattering of small white and bluish dots alongside it. The spiracles on the sides of the body are black. Older oleander hawk-moth larvae measure around 7.5 to 8.5 centimetres in length.
Just before it pupates, the oleander hawk-moth larva becomes browner in colour. The pupa of this species measures around 5.5 to 7.5 centimetres in length, and is light brown with black spots and a black line down the middle.
Caterpillar feeding on a pinwheel flower plant at Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu, India
Near Kolkata, India
Caterpillar at Behala, Kolkata
The adult has a greenish head, with rufous in front and a grey band on the vertex. The thorax is green, and the collar outlined in grey. There is a triangular grey patch on the vertex. Abdomen is pale greenish with oblique lines at the side paired dark green lateral blotches on the penultimate segment and a single dorsal blotch on the ultimate segment. Forewings are dark green and a white patch with a black spot on it at base. Some medial whitish conjoined bands, rosy towards the hind margin. There is a triangular purplish patch from below the cell to near outer margin. Hindwings are fuscous with a pale curved submarginal line, beyond which the area is olivaceus. Ventral side is suffused with chestnut colour and a white submarginal line on both wings. A white speck is present at the end of the hindwing.
Larva is greenish, with a bluish lateral bands from fourth somite to horn with white oval spots on it. Ocellus on third somite is bluish. Horn is yellowish.
- Daphnis hypothous, found in South and Southeast Asia. Distinguished by a white spot at the forewing apex.
- "Fauna Europaea".
- Pittaway, A. R. (2018). "Daphnis Hübner, ". Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
- Moore, A. and Miller, R.H. (2008) Daphnis nerii (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae), a new pest of oleander on Guam, including notes on plant hosts and egg parasitism. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society, 40: 67-70.
- Leong, T.M. and D'Rozario, V. (2009) Final instar larvae and metamorphosis of the oleander hawkmoth, Daphnis nerii (Linnaeus) in Singapore (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae: Macroglossinae). Nature in Singapore, 2: 297-306.
- Hampson, G. F. (1892). The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma: Moths Volume I. Taylor and Francis – via Biodiversity Heritage Library.
- Pittaway, A. R.; Kitching, I. J. "Daphnis hypothous crameri Eitschberger & Melichar, 2010 -- Jade hawkmoth". Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
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