Biology

The adult moths fly at various times during the year, depending on the area. September through November is the usual flying time in the northern parts of its distribution. From Florida southward, however, it has several generations per year.

Once mated the female deposits eggs on both sides of the leaves and on the tendrils of the host plants (various species of Cissus, Parthenocissus, and Vitis vinifera). Once hatched the larva starts searching and feeding on the new growth of the food plant.

The larva goes through 5 instars before pupating.

First instar larva

  • reddish brown with 6 irregular and lateral white spots
  • head, true legs, prolegs, anal clasper and the base of the caudal horn are an orange-reddish colour
  • the caudal horn is extremely long and black

Second, third and fourth larvae

  • mottled coloration of brown and black, which closely resembles the scaling of a snake’s skin
  • the irregular lateral spots have a lime-green coloration
  • some red irregular spots are also found on the lower area of the thoracic segments
  • the third thoracic segment is slightly swollen and bears two clearly defined eye-spots, one on each side

Fifth instar larva

  • in the final stage of the caterpillar in this species, the caudal horn is lost at the last moult, leaving a brown patch with a dark central spot
  • the bright colouration disappears

Once ready to pupate, the caterpillar descends from the host plant and buries itself underground in a cell, where it usually spends several months. When the adult is ready to emerge, the pupa wriggles to the surface and the adult emerges, climbs onto a support and slowly pumps hemolymph inside the veins of the wings to extend them.