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Oleander Hawk-moth (Daphnis nerii)

Oleander hawk-moth belongs to the hawk moth or Sphingidae family, widely distributed in Asia, Africa, and the Hawaiian Islands. They have been named so since the larvae of this species feed on the toxic oleander leaves to which they have attained immunity.  Swedish zoologist and botanist Carl Linnaeus described it for the first time in his 10th edition of Systema Naturae, published in 1758.

Oleander Hawk-moth

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Scientific Classification


  • Family: Sphingidae
  • Genus: Daphnis
  • Scientific Name: Daphnis nerii

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

The new larvae are 0.3 – 0.4 cm long with a bright yellow body and long black horns at the rear end.

The older larvae’s color varies from green to brown, and they also adorn a large bluish-white eyespot close to the head alongside a yellow horn on the rear. A white band with blue and white dots can even be seen on one part of the body, along with black spiracles. They grow to about 7.5 – 8.5 cm in length. As they prepare for the pupal phase, the larvae eventually become brown.

Besides oleander leaves, the larva also consumes several dogbane species.

Oleander Hawk Moth Larva

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Oleander Hawk Moth Caterpillar

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Pupa

The pupa, 5.5 – 7.5 cm long, is light brown or reddish-brown, with black lines or spots running through the center. It mostly lies within the dry leaves or moss.

Oleander Hawk Moth Cocoon

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Oleander Hawk Moth Pupa

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Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Not recorded

Color and Appearance

Forewings: When opened, they appear olive green, with a reddish-brown tinge in front, and a grayish triangular band on top, as well as a black spot close to the base. When closed, the coloration remains the same, though the shade of green is a little less prominent then.

Hindwings: When opened, they have a grayish-green appearance with a curved white line running through the center and a white speck towards the end. When closed, the grayish-green pattern remains, though the white line is not visible.

Its other physical features include a green head with a reddish-brown patch in front and a grayish triangular band on top. The abdomen is olive green with black and tan lines intersecting the center, while it has a green thorax too.

Average wingspan: 9 – 13 cm

Flight pattern: Erratic

Season: August – October

Daphnis nerii

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Army Green Moth

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Eggs

The eggs are small, round, and pale green.

Oleander Hawk-moth Egg

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Quick Facts

Other NamesArmy green moth
DistributionAsia, Africa, and certain parts of Hawaiian Islands
HabitatScrublands, hillsides
PredatorsSpiders, birds
Lifespan of Adults2 – 3 weeks
Host PlantsOleander, and plants of the dogbane family
Adult DietNectar of host plants

Did You Know

  • Their green patchwork resembles the fatigues worn by military personnel, accounting for their other name, army green moth.
  • This migratory moth flies to the eastern and southern parts of Europe in summer.
Oleander Hawk Moth Pictures

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Oleander Hawk

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Oleander Hawk-moth Photo

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