Project Noah

Project Noah is a tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere.

Join Project Noah Today

Oleander Hawk-moth

Daphnis nerii


Freshly emerged specimen with exceptionally bright and purple colors. I did not change the color on this photo or edit it strongly, besides a small crop and a hint of brightness. I have also added the original, unedited photo.




I spotted this on the wall of the guesthouse at Baobeng Fiema monkey sanctuary. Thanks to experts Latimeria, bayucca and Roy Goff for confirming that this is D. nerii.

No species ID suggestions

197 Comments (1–25)

Amazing colours!

dandoucette 3 weeks ago

Thanks Lucinda.

LucindaWestwood a month ago

Serious envy! This is one of my all time fav moths! Just love those colours. Great spotting.

dandoucette a month ago

Thanks dominique and ddl.

ddl a month ago

Simply WOW

dominique.eghlidi 3 months ago


HazelMarley 7 months ago

No problem, dan.

dandoucette 9 months ago

Thanks ChristosMaroulis.

ChristosMaroulis 9 months ago


dandoucette 10 months ago

Thanks Hazel.

HazelMarley 10 months ago

Beautiful colors!

dandoucette 11 months ago

Thanks rams4d.

rams4d 11 months ago

Amazing purple tones

pamsai a year ago

Very interesting conversation... thanks you all...

JoeHartman a year ago

Bayucca, I agree to let it rest and keep it a secret photo phenomenon.
The only question is: how does it influence the educational task of PN? People who see only this pic will think it's the default colour, and it's not.
I have the corrected photo in my computer, by one correction of the WB I got the correct colours.
I wish there would be a way to upload it here, so interested people can see the result of a photo error and how it should have looked like. I can send it to you personally, as you are one of the few who recognize possible technical problems. Let me know, my email is Thanks

bayucca a year ago

Flash and artificial light and a fresh specimen. We will never find out what really change the usually seen colors most. For me it is fresh moth, maybe artificial light and flash, however, flash would rather enhance existing colors than alter them. And I cannot imagine that they us in a guesthouse for tourist expensive artificial lights, just the cheapest ones, like in most other places. So we should see more altered colors in moth if these lamps are so critical. The point with the white balance is interesting. Usually wb is hidden in the menu of the camera, so you would not change it by incidence. I think Dan would have noticed this if something is wrong with the camera.
I suggest, that we leave it like this and Dan might add some more infos in the description.

JoeHartman a year ago

With all respect, I don't see any purple in your link. They are green or brownish.

To the photo: there is a lot wrong with the photo: the colours! Either the white-balance or the flash, but as has bee confirmed now (and I mentioned it and asked Dan in an earlier post) that UV light totally changes colours, specially green. In a yourh-stage I collected minerals and some of them gives awesome colours under UV-light. Guess what gave the best results? Green! So to me it is clear that there has been some light influence (from outside, neon lights or so?) and that spoilt the photo. Yes spoilt, no Oleander Hawk-moth looks that colour, fresh or not. I still wait for pics of purple D. nerii, if it is so usual, why can't I (and otehrs) not find pics on the web?

PS I have taken the photo in my computer and changed the white balance....perfect green colours, fresh colours, no sign of purple! If there is a way I would love to share it, to show the science from a photographer's stand point.

RoyGoff a year ago

The purple and the pink colours are usually present and obviously brighter on a fresh specimen, but they are exaggerated on this photo probably by flash exposure see for a range of colours

JoeHartman a year ago

I think there has not been any doubt about it being D. nerii. The question is not only did Dan use flash (as I thought to have read that already) but was maybe something not correct with the exposure settings?
Or: Did Ian Kitching mention that this purple is perfectly normal?

bayucca a year ago

I just got the mail from Ian Kitching. He as well confirmed the ID of Daphnis nerii. There is no other Daphnis in Africa. And it is a fresh one, hence these colors. So there is only one question left: Dan, did you use flash?

RoyGoff a year ago

Hi everybody, There is very little wrong with this picture. It is on the bright side and the possibility of UV increasing the colours sounds logical. I would suggest that it may be caused by an imbalance within the flash of the camera and sometimes I find that structure of the background affects camera exposure especially on auto. However I frequently catch these moths and when fresh they are very bright and very similar to Dan's photo. It is not a colour form just a normal moth. With this species colour fades very quickly and I have never seen a museum specimen that does justice to the colours of a freshly emerged moth, especially the green which tends to shade towards brown within a day or two of the moth being killed and certainly very quickly when alive for a few days they become much more drab.

bayucca a year ago

Mistery solved! Tony Pittaway confirmed Daphnis nerii, however, under the influence of UV, hence the color changes. Can you remember that there was artificial light around? I cannot imagine that natural UV may alter the colors in such a way.

bayucca a year ago

Mail sent, but not to Bill, since he is my Saturniidae expert. Funny... I was at the NHM in London last week and both are at this Museum... Tony Pittaway and Ian Kitching.

dandoucette a year ago

Thanks so much bayucca. I look forward to your experts opinion. Hopefully this will satisfy the disbelievers.

bayucca a year ago

I checked Nerii again and I never doubted the ID of this one and I never thought about a confusion. I agree Nerii has usually not this color, but mostly gren as Joe pointed out. However I have seen millions of moths and butterflies to belive that you always have color morphs or even hybrids with change in colors and markings. I know Dan too long not to believe him that there were no tricks there and usually an experienced photographer remembers the actual colors quite well. I checked for other species but this moths is so unique I did not find any other possible candidate. I cannot judge the developement of changes in geographical ranges over the last decades. Ghana might not be within the "classic" range. But ranges are anyway not a very reliable criteria, since you never know where the data actually come from. For me it is clearly Daphnis nerii, might be a color morph (as the brown one in the link) or a localized hybrid or subspecies. Not to forget, Nerii is in some regions a migrant moth. A very similar species is Daphnis hypothous, which, however, is not found in Africa (to my knowledge)
There is one expert who will clarify for sure: Bill Oehlke. I will send him a message.

Kumasi, Ashanti Region, Ghana

Lat: 6.69, Long: -1.62

Spotted on Dec 20, 2003
Submitted on Apr 22, 2011


Related spottings

Daphnis Nerii Oleander Hawk-moth Oleander Hawk-moth Oleander Hawk Moth Caterpillar

Nearby spottings

Robberfly with prey Light Brown Forester Ceres Forester Tentyris Forester