Impatiens Hawk Moth

My impression of Japanese insects was that they are often larger and more colorful than many of their North American “relatives”. Often I see them referred to as being “more scary”. I find many of these insects fascinating.

This impatiens hawk moth caterpillar (Theretra oldenlandiae) was on a retaining wall at an udon (noodle) restaurant in Sakaide, Kagawa, Japan. In Japan it is known as “sesujisuzume” or “striped black sparrow”. The impatiens hawk moth is found in the Orient (China, Japan and Korea) as well as the Indo-Australian region. Other common names for this caterpillar are taro hookworm and white-banded hunter hawkmoth. There are three subspecies of T oldenlandiae.

Host plants for the impatiens hawk moth larva (caterpillar) are impatiens, fuschias, balsams, lilies and grapes, among other plants. The host plants are often entirely stripped of leaves by this voracious caterpillar.

The impatiens hawk moth caterpillar is purplish brown with black-ringed ocelli, a small black spine (or horn) tipped in white on the posterior end and bands of yellow/whitish specks.  The forward ocelli are centered with blue or black while the rear ones are centered in crimson or purple. There are six larval instars or stages. The mature larva pupates in a loose cocoon of fallen leaves wrapped in silk.

Impatiens hawk moth caterpillars do not bite or sting, however, they will regurgitate a green liquid consisting of previous meals if annoyed.

I did not photograph any mature impatiens hawk moths. Therefore I am breaking one of my “post rules” that states I must take all pictures posted on my blog to show the moth into which this colorful caterpillar metamorphoses.  This mature impatiens hawk moth photograph was found in the commons.

Impatiens Hawk Moth

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3 Responses to Impatiens Hawk Moth

  1. Lin Erickson says:

    Fascinating!

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