Southern Downs Buterflies & MothsAloa marginata (Donovan’s Tiger Moth) Amata trigonophora (Tiger Moth) Candalides xanthospilos (Yellow-spot Blue) Cephonodes kingii (Day Flying Hawk Moth) Genduara punctigera (Crexa Moth) Opodiphthera loranthi (Emperor Moth) Papilio aegeus aegeus (Orchard Butterfly) Tirumala hamata (Blue Tiger)

The Day Flying Hawk Moth (Cephonodes kingii), also known as the Gardenia Bee Hawk or the Bee Hawk Moth, is a moth of the family Sphingidae. There are about 850 species of Hawk Moth world-wide, with 65 species in Australia. Cephonodes kingii is often seen in the urban gardens.

Day Flying Hawk Moth (Cephonodes kingii) on Buddleja, Ballandean QLD © Marc Newman
Day Flying Hawk Moth (Cephonodes kingii) on Buddleja, Ballandean QLD © Marc Newman

The wingspan is about 40 mm. Adults resemble bumble bees. They are mostly green with a yellow abdomen and a black band around the first few abdominal segments, and a dark mark on the next segment. There is a black fringe around the tip of the abdomen. The wings are mostly transparent except for an opaque area near the tip of the forewings.

Day Flying Hawk Moth (Cephonodes kingii) on Chinese Plumbago, Ballandean QLD © Marc Newman
Day Flying Hawk Moth (Cephonodes kingii) on Chinese Plumbago, Ballandean QLD © Marc Newman

The adult moth feed on flower nectar.

Day Flying Hawk Moth (Cephonodes kingii) on Buddleja, Ballandean QLD © Marc Newman
Day Flying Hawk Moth (Cephonodes kingii) on Buddleja, Ballandean QLD © Marc Newman

The larvae / caterpillars when they first hatch are pale green in colour with a short black tail horn. The caterpillars can be varied in colour (becoming black, grey, or green, and often with black lines across the back). With the posterior horn, the caterpillar has white spiracles along each side of the body, outlined in red. The caterpillars pupate under the soil.


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Hexapoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Informal: Pterygotes
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Unranked: Ditrysia
  • Superfamily: Sphingoidea
  • Family: Sphingidae
  • Subfamily: Macroglossinae
  • Genus: Cephonodes
  • Species: Cephonodes kingii

Footnote & References

  1. Flickr, Photographs © Marc Newman
  2. Cephonodes kingii (W.S. Macleay, 1826), Bee Hawk Moth, Atlas of Living Australia, https://bie.ala.org.au/species/https://biodiversity.org.au/afd/taxa/ece511ed-e4ba-436c-bc80-4a9c82540a76
  3. Hawk Moths, Australian Museum, https://australian.museum/learn/animals/insects/hawk-moths/

Southern Downs Buterflies & MothsAloa marginata (Donovan’s Tiger Moth) Amata trigonophora (Tiger Moth) Candalides xanthospilos (Yellow-spot Blue) Cephonodes kingii (Day Flying Hawk Moth) Genduara punctigera (Crexa Moth) Opodiphthera loranthi (Emperor Moth) Papilio aegeus aegeus (Orchard Butterfly) Tirumala hamata (Blue Tiger)

Southern Downs InsectsSouthern Downs Beetles Southern Downs Buterflies & Moths Australian Emperor Scarlet Percher

Southern Downs QLDSouthern Downs Fauna Southern Downs Bees Southern Downs Birds Southern Downs Crustacean Southern Downs Frogs Southern Downs Insects Southern Downs Marsupials Southern Downs Reptiles Southern Downs Spiders

QueenslandGold Coast Region Lamington National Park Southern Downs QLD