AMBULYX MOOREI Moore, [1858] -- Cinnamon gliding hawkmoth

Female Ambulyx moorei. Photo: © NHMUK Male Ambulyx moorei, pale form. Photo: © NHMUK


Ambulyx moorei Moore, [1858], in Horsfield & Moore, Cat. Lepid. Ins. Mus. East India Company 1: 266. Type locality: [Indonesia,] Java [Jawa].

Synonym. Smerinthus decolor Schaufuss, 1870.

Synonym. Ambulyx subocellata R. Felder, [1874], in Felder, Felder & Rogenhofer, Reise öst. Fregatte Novara (Zool.) 2 (Abt. 2): pl. 76, fig. 3. Type locality: [Indonesia,] Java [Jawa].

Synonym. Ambulyx turbata Butler, 1875.

Synonym. Ambulyx thwaitesii Moore, 1882.

Synonym. Ambulyx nubila Huwe, 1895.

Synonym. Oxyambulyx moorei chinensis Clark, 1922.


Wingspan: 100--110mm. Similar to Ambulyx canescens, but ranging in colour from yellowish-brown through orange-brown to dark purplish red-brown, never greyish. Markings vary considerably.

In the male genitalia, abdominal sternum A8 with posterior margin having a weak mesal lobe; edge of lobe produced internally to two tubercles, which lie close together. Gnathos in the form of two widely separated lobe-like processes inclined towards each other. Harpe extending basally from ventral to dorsal edge of valva; produced into long pointed process, which curves ventrad, and usually bears a tooth at its base; ventrally produced into irregular spatulate process, upper edge produced into a trialngular tooth. Aedeagus lacking external armature; vesica with ribbon-like sclerite densely covered with minute denticles. In the female genitalia, tergum A8 less sclerotised mesally than laterally. Ostium bursae large with anterior margin folded; laterally, sterigma raised and complex.

Resting female Ambulyx moorei, Mt. Wuzhishan, Hainan, China, 29.xi.2018. Photo: © He JiBai. Adult Ambulyx moorei, Bukit Fraser, Malaysia. Photo: © CheongWeei Gan. Adult Ambulyx moorei, Bukit Fraser, Malaysia. Photo: © CheongWeei Gan. Adult Ambulyx moorei, Palawan, Philippines. Photo: © Jan Petersen


The moths rest in the same position as others of the genus. They are very sluggish during the day and unwilling to move, but fly well at night. Very difficult to pair in captivity (Bell & Scott, 1937).

In the eastern Himalaya in occurs locally in forests with heavy rainfall at 4000' (Bell & Scott, 1937).


China: ii (Guangdong); iv (Guangdong; Hong Kong); v (Hong Kong); v-vii (Hainan); vi (Guangdong); vii (Hong Kong); x (Hong Kong); 16.xi (Hong Kong); 29.xi (Hainan); xii (Guangdong).


OVUM: Bright grass-green, slightly oval (1.5 x 1.70mm), shiny but minutely pitted (Bell & Scott, 1937).

LARVA: Full-fed 86mm long, 11mm wide; horn 16 mm. According to Bell & Scott (1937), in the final instar very similar to that of A. substrigilis, but body rather more slender and horn longer and thinner. Head triangular, three times as long as broad, vertex rounded, with a low, conical tubercle on apex of each lobe. True clypeus not one-third length of head; false clypeus very narrow, apex acute. Labrum short, slightly broader than long. Ligula open horseshoe-shaped, each side produced into a long arm, length three-quarters that of true clypeus. Eyes arranged as in others of the genus. Surface of head slightly shiny, very obscurely and irregularly transversely wrinkled, covered very sparsely with minute setiferous tubercles. Body dull, with a transverse row of small conical tubercles around each secondary ring, these reaching the dorso-lateral line. There is a dorso-lateral row of larger tubercles from segment 2 to segment 11, with similar large tubercles on the oblique lateral stripes, these extending backwards across the dorsum. Horn set sparsely with large tubercles and closely with small, pointed tubercles.

In colour, head aqueous bluish-green with a narrow, double yellowish dorsal stripe from vertex to apex of clypeus and from vertex to nape. There is also a broader white cheek-stripe separating the face from cheek; tubercles white. Labrum glassy-bluish in colour; ligula reddish-brown; basal segment of antenna green, other segments reddish; mandibles green, tip reddish brown. Body grass-green on dorsum between the dorso-lateral lines of tubercles, the latter yellow or rising from yellow dots, except those of the dorso-lateral line on segments 3 to 5, which are white. Below the dorso-lateral lines the body is paler green, strongly suffused with glaucous and dotted with white. There are seven narrow oblique lateral stripes on segments 5 to 11, that on 11 white and running back to the horn. The others are white with white tubercles on them below the dorso-lateral line of tubercles, and extending backward as a line of yellow tubercles to over the dorsum of each segment behind and then on to the dorso-lateral line, forming crosses of tubercles. A large maroon-coloured spiracular patch is present on segments 3 and 4, and there is a maroon-coloured patch above the dorso-lateral line on the hind margins of segments 4 to 10. That on segment 4 is small, the rest increasing in size to 7, where it runs forward along the whole length of the dorso-lateral line to the front margin and upwards along that margin. There are also maroon-coloured basal patches in front of the prolegs and on the venter of 12. This sometimes spreads across the venter from spiracle to spiracle. Horn green, paler below and with a blackish tip. Legs red with base green; prolegs green; anal flap green edged with orange; claspers bluish, edged with orange. Spiracles oval, flush, bluish, the bluish slightly suffused with pale brown inside the rim, which is a fine dark maroon; the spiracles of segments 2 and 12 larger than the rest (Bell & Scott, 1937).

The resting position is the same as for others of the genus. They do not change colour much before pupation, only becoming duller in shade.

PUPA: 46--50mm long, 11.5--13mm wide. Similar to that of A. substrigilis, but more slightly built and with sometimes a small coxal piece. Colour dark chestnut except for hind bevels of segments 8 to 10, which are much paler in colour; spiracles black with central slit chestnut cremaster nearly black. Surface shiny, but body, except for the hind bevels of segments 8 to 10, roughened with irregular wrinkles, corrugations and groups of tubercles, nowhere prominent. In addition, the abdominal segments are shallowly pitted; there is a narrow, smooth dorsal line on the thorax; the wing veins are prominent, with wing-cases transversely lined. There is sculpturing on segment 4 consisting of two deep transverse channels on each side, one close to and parallel with front margin and one close to and parallel with the hind margin, having a smooth, raised, flat area between them, the dorsal line carinate. Segment 6 is also dorsally carinate. There are ante-spiracular ridges on segments 9 to 11, those on 9 consisting of very narrow, shiny ridges separated by eight deep, narrow, parallel, smooth channels. There are similar but fewer and shorter ridges on 10 and 11. Spiracle of segment 2 indicated by a lappet on the front margin of 3, with the hind margin of 2 curved marginate and thickened in front of it. Remaining spiracles oval, flat, with a narrow raised slit. Cremaster wedge-shaped, triangular from dorsal view, base broad and undercut, laterally compressed, as high as broad except at tip where it ends in a smooth, low, short ridge dividing into two short diverging teeth; the surface (except for the teeth at tip) very rugose and wrinkled (Bell & Scott, 1937).

Pupation in an ovoid cell about 15cm underground.

Pupa of Ambulyx moorei. Image: Mell, 1922b Pupa of Ambulyx moorei. Image: Mell, 1922b

Larval hostplants. Canarium album (Burseraceae) in China, but recorded from various Anacardiaceae in India (Bell & Scott, 1937). In Bhutan on Buchanania, Lannea and Canarium.



China: Yunnan (Menglun); Guangdong (Guangzhou); Hong Kong (Shek Kong); Guangxi (Longtan); Hainan (Chengmai; ??Secha; Taiping; Jianfeng; Wuzhishan).


Sri Lanka, southern, eastern and northeastern India (Arunachal Pradesh (Sanjay Sondhi, pers. comm. 2015)), Nepal (Haruta, 1992), Bhutan, Nicobar and Andaman Islands, Thailand, Vietnam (Le & Vu, 2024), southern China, Philippines (Palawan, Balabac) (Inoue, 1996), Malaysia (Peninsular, Sarawak), Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan to Timor).

Global distribution of Ambulyx moorei. Map: © NHMUK.



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© A. R. Pittaway & I. J. Kitching (Natural History Museum, London)