Desert Hawk Moth
S6, Female: Hindwing
Ellura
Desert Hawk Moth
S2, Male: Antennae white scales
 
    
Desert Hawk Moth (Hopliocnema brachycera)Class: Animals (Animalia) - Jointed Legs (Arthropoda) - Insects (Insecta)
Order: Butterflies & Moths (Lepidoptera)
Family: Hawk Moth (:Bombycoidea Sphingidae)
Species: Desert Hawk Moth (Hopliocnema brachycera)
This Photo:     S13, Female: Hindwings

General Species Information:
Found on Ellura (in the Murray Mallee, SA) and elsewhere
These are small for Hawk Moths. ~20-23mm long & ~41-49mm wingspan. Female antennae are bipectinate, but easily mistaken for filiform as the pectinations/teeth are so short. Males have a strange antennae structure. Officially they are bipectinate (2 "teeth" off each antennal segment, with larger "teeth" than females), but compared with other bipectinate antennae they are very complex; as can be seen in the photo's. We would actually class them as quad-pectinate (4 main "teeth" per antenna segment). The pectinations are more like fans rather than individual teeth or filaments. The latin "pectin" means comb, implying the bipectinate antennae are like combs with two rows of teeth.
The antennae also appear to be two coloured; with white scales covering on top, and ochre brown under. In fact the ochre brown is the colour of the antennae and the white scales can wear off.
They are nearly impossible to distinguish from the other species in the genus. Their hindwings are diagnostic and are basically white (to pale grey) with some possible horizontal striping.
H. ochra has a deeply coloured, orange, discal spot on the forewings. While H. brachycera's spot can be grey to beige, it's not orange.
H. lacunosa is harder to separate from H. brachycera with a darker strip on the inner margin of the hind wing.
H. lacunosa seems restricted to a small area in the South of WA. H. ochra is in the north of SA, as well as WA & NT. H. brachycera is found in all mainland States.
There is a chestnut/red tinge to the ventral abdomen scales.
The body has a black tuft behind the shoulders, between the wings, that shows in the profile shots.
The forewing lines look somewhat variable in shape.
When the scales wear off on the their abdomen, their skin looks green.
We have included a large number of photo's to show the differences between individuals; as well as when worn.
We have photographed 13 specimens, 11 Males (Nov, Dec & Jan), 2 Females (Nov & Dec) plus eggs.

Copyright © 2019- Brett & Marie Smith. All Rights Reserved. Photographed 19-Dec-2019
This species is an Australian Native Species, not listed in the SA Murray Mallee Survey of 2010.