Weekly Series
Nature Weekly
Short Notes on Nature Singapore

16 July 2017 | Caterpillar | Oleander Hawk Moth | Daphnis nerii |

photo photo While scanning visually for tiny bugs on the large plot of Pinwheel Jasmine (Tabernaemontana divaricata) in a park in early July, I came across 2 tiny pale green eggs. One was on the surface of a leaf while the other one was attached to the stem. It made me wonder which butterfly was the owner of the eggs. I did not recall the Pinwheel Jasmine being a host plant of a butterfly.

A week later, I was back at the same spot searching on bugs for my photography session. It made me quite excited when I saw 3 hawk moth caterpillars on the underside of leaves at different spots. photo photo photo I then recalled the sighting of the 2 eggs a week back. Indeed, it later turned out that I was correct to link the eggs with the caterpillars. Based on the size and appearance of the caterpillars, they were at different instar stages. One of them had a large blackened area near the tail area which I suspected was an injury rather than some kind of natural pattern on its body.

photo I first saw an Oleander Hawk Moth (Daphnis nerii) in 2011 but had no luck finding its caterpillar and egg until this encounter. This moth had several host plants while the more commonly reported ones were Nerium oleander and Tabernaemontana divaricata. Two comprehensive write ups of this moth in Singapore were available in the taxo4254 website and mygreenspace website respectively. In addition, there were 2 local publications on this moth since 2009 [1-2].

I went back to the same spot again yesterday hoping to find an even more advance stage instar of the caterpillar. The first thing that I noticed was that the plot of Pinwheel Jasmine had just received a "hair-cut". The originally dense leafy plot was left with around half of the amount of leaves. Fortunately, some caterpillars survive the ordeal and I found at least 5 of them feeding on the remaining leaves. The big fat caterpillars were in late instar stage.


[1] Leong TM. Observations of pupal eclosion and pheromone release in the oleander hawkmoth, Daphnis nerii (Linnaeus, 1758) (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae: Macroglossinae). Nature in Singapore 2011;4:369-375. | Read article |

[2] Leong TM, D'Rozario V. Final instar larvae and metamorphosis of the oleander hawkmoth, Daphnis nerii (Linnaeus) in Singapore (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae: Macroglossinae). Nature in Singapore 2009;2:297-306. | Read article |

To use any of the image(s), please read the conditions carefully. To correct any error, please contact me.