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Oleander Hawk Moth (Daphnis nerii)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Oleander Hawk Moth

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Image Credit: Louiena A. from Guam
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The Oleander Hawk Moth is a large, sleek moth that thrives in warm climates and hides among dense lush green foliage.

Updated: 07/07/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Native to Asia, Africa, and parts of Europe, the Oleander Hawk Moth arrived in Hawaii in the 1970's. This member of the Sphinx Moth family is large like its cousins. An adult's wingspan can stretch to almost 10cm (4 inches). The wings are a collage of green colors ranging from light green to olive to dark forest green. This patchwork of green resembles camouflage fatigues issued in the military. For this reason, the Oleander Hawk Moth is also called an Army Green Moth. Its legs are tan. A tan eyespot sits on each wing where it attaches to the body. The forewings have a hint of pink on the inner edges. Bands and lines of white, brown, and tan criss-cross over the wings. The abdomen (body) is green with a black and tan belt across the middle.

Caterpillars are plump and green. Two light blue eyespots surrounded in black can be seen just behind the head on the dorsal (back) side. A white line runs along the length of the body on either side. An orange-yellow horn at the rear resembles a thorn or stinger. The whole caterpillar becomes dark brown just before it pupates. Look for brown pupal cases with black side dots in leaf litter on the ground.

Oleander Hawk Moth larvae eat the foliage of oleander, possessing immunity from the chemicals in this poisonous plant. They also feed on vincas, grapevines, gardenias, and members of the dogbane family like crape jasmine. Adults drink nectar from scented flowers like honeysuckle, petunia, and jasmine. They are most active in low-light hours, especially dusk, making it even more difficult to see it in its natural element.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Sphingidae
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          Genus: Daphnis
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            Species: nerii
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Daphnis nerii
Other Name(s): Army Green Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 80mm to 100mm (3.14" to 3.93")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: green, tan, brown, white, pink
Descriptors: flash, flying, huge, large, lines, eyespot

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 80mm (3.1in) and 100mm (3.9in)
Lo: 80mm
Md: 90mm
Hi: 100mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Oleander Hawk Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Oleander Hawk Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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