Australian Striped Hawk MothInstar of the Hyles livornicoides Yeperenye / Yipirinya

In Central Australia, after good rain, the appearance of the sticky tar-vine Ayepe (Boerhavia coccinea), heralds the appearance of a special insect. The Ayepe is the most important of the food plant for the Ayepe-arenye (Yeperenye / Yipirinya) caterpillars, that cocoon underground, emerging as the adult Australian Striped Hawk Moth (Hyles livornicoides), also known as the White-lined Hawke Moth.

Yeperenye / Yipirinya Caterpillar, Alice Springs, NT
Yeperenye / Yipirinya Caterpillar, Alice Springs, NT

The Yeperenye / Yipirinya Caterpillar is a sacred totemic ancestral being for the Arrernte people of Alice Springs in Central Australia. With the two known spelling, of the name, the aboriginal spelling is Ayepe-arenye, being pronounced Yep-ah-rin-ya. Yeperenye is the most important of three caterpillars that play the major role in the local Dreaming stories (there are actually four caterpillars and a carab beetle that were the ancestral beings that created parts of Tyerretye (Macdonnell Ranges), that included certain gaps, rock piles, trees and woodlands in the Mparntwe (the Arrente term for Alice Springs ) region.

The local totem sacred sites, which are linked by dreaming tracks – such as Emily and Jessie Gaps and several gum trees in Alice Springs – remain to this day (Spencer & Gillen, 1968).

Following image of the Yeperenye / Yipirinya Caterpillar feasting on the sticky tar-vine Ayepe (Boerhavia coccinea),

Yeperenye / Yipirinya Caterpillar, Alice Springs, NT
Yeperenye / Yipirinya Caterpillar eating Ayepe (tar vine), Alice Springs, NT

In the following image, you can see two instar stages of the Yeperenye / Yipirinya Caterpillar – Australian Striped Hawk Moth (Hyles livornicoides).


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Sphingidae
  • Genus: Hyles
  • Species: H. livornicoides
  • Binomial name: Hyles livornicoides

Footnote & References

  1. A touch of light: totemic caterpillars, by Mike Gillam, Alice Springs News, Issue 22, Volume 25, https://alicespringsnews.com.au/2020/03/31/a-touch-of-light-totemic-caterpillars/
  2. Caterpillars as big as a mountain are starving, by Dr Fiona Walsh, 17 January 2017, Alice Springs News, https://alicespringsnews.com.au/2017/01/17/caterpillars-as-big-as-a-mountain-are-starving/
  3. a novice discovers the caterpillar, 22 December 2018, Posted by Bill Kerr, http://billkerr2.blogspot.com/2018/12/a-novice-discovers-caterpillar.html

Australian Striped Hawk MothInstar of the Hyles livornicoides Yeperenye / Yipirinya

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