HYLES CHAMYLA (Denso, 1913) -- Dogbane hawkmoth

Male Hyles chamyla, Hami/Kumul, Xinjiang, China. SYNTYPE. Photo: © NHMUK Male Hyles chamyla, Hami/Kumul, Xinjiang, China. SYNTYPE. Photo: © NHMUK

TAXONOMY

Celerio hippophaes chamyla Denso, 1913, Dt. ent. Z., Iris 27: 37. Type locality: [China, Xinjiang,] western Gobi, Chamyl [Kumul/Hami], 800-900m.

Synonym. Celerio hippophaes chamyla Denso, 1913.

Synonym. Celerio chamyla apocyni Shchetkin, 1956, Izv. Akad. Nauk tadzhik. SSR, (Otdel. Estest Vennijkh Nauk) (16): 143--156.

Note. Subspecies apocyni is not tenable and is, at the moment, best regarded as a form. In many Hyles species which inhabit desert and semi-desert biomes, specimens from the more arid and hotter areas tend to be paler and smaller than those from less hostile environments; such is the case with Hyles chamyla. Shchetkin (1956) himself pointed out that many of the specimens of f. apocyni he obtained from the more fertile southern areas of Tajikistan were virtually indistinguishable from the type series from arid Hami/Kumul, China, although most were larger and darker in colour. However, there is mounting evidence to suggest that Hyles chamyla f. apocyni may be a hybrid between Hyles chamyla and Hyles euphorbiae, and may be related in some way to Hyles churkini Saldaitis & Ivinskis, 2006: this requires further study. Two possible individuals of Hyles chamyla f. apocyni are illustrated in Yakovlev, Gus'kova, Doroshkin & Titov (2015), as Hyles churkini.


ADULT DESCRIPTION AND VARIATION

Wingspan: 52--75mm. Varies, with some resembling a pale, creamy Hyles hippophaes bienerti. A few even look like Hyles centralasiae in having a large discoidal spot in the pale median stripe of the forewing, which itself can be very faint or pronounced. Easily mistaken for a hybrid between Hyles euphorbiae and Hyles hippophaes bienerti. The pink area of the hindwing can be intense or faint.


ADULT BIOLOGY

A species of Elaeagnus/Apocynum thickets along river-banks and on river flood-plains.


Typical open riverine habitat of Hyles chamyla, Turpan area, Xinjiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

FLIGHT-TIME

China: 7.vii (Xayar). Mongolia: 1-6.vi (Gov'-Altai Province); 29-30.vi (Hovd Province); 8-10.vii (Hovd Province).


EARLY STAGES

OVUM: Unknown, but presumably as Hyles euphorbiae.

LARVA: Full-fed, 55--80mm. Dimorphic: khaki grass-green or bluish-grey.

Similar to that of Hyles hippophaes bienerti, a species with which it probably shares a common ancestor, but with significant differences. The coloration and pattern tend to remain the same for all instars. In the final instar the primary body colour is pale khaki grass-green, although some have a bluish-grey suffusion. The legs, prolegs, anal claspers, head and shield are of the same colour. The body is covered with small yellowish white dots, but these are usually larger and fewer in number than in Hyles hippophaes bienerti, and may even be absent. The horn is yellow with a black tip. Spiracles pale with, in many, dark marks either side. Unlike Hyles hippophaes bienerti, no dorso-lateral stripe is present and there is no elongated yellow spot at the base of the horn. A ventro-lateral yellowish-white band runs from thoracic segment 1 to abdominal segment 8. In some individuals the dorsal surface has a slight cinnamon hue, whilst others bear large but regular black patches (Shchetkin, 1956; 1960).

The larvae are voracious feeders and grow very quickly, particularly in the fourth and fifth instars.

PUPA: Very similar to that of Hyles euphorbiae, but slightly smaller. Formed in a chamber in the soil. Summer pupae remain at this stage for only nine to fourteen days. Overwinters as a pupa.

Larval hostplants. Recorded from Hovd Province, Mongolia, on Apocynum pictum (Yakovlev, Gus'kova, Doroshkin & Titov, 2015). Additionally, Hyles chamyla f. apocyni (Shchetkin) is recorded from Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on Apocynum (Shchetkin, 1956; 1960), particularly Apocynum scabrum and Apocynum venetum. These plants grow along the open, drier fringes of riverine vegetation. However, searches by the first author along several rivers on the southern slopes of the Tian Shan, north of Turpan, in 1995 failed to find this species, even though Apocynum was present.


Apocynum hostplant of Hyles chamyla, Turpan area, Xinjiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

PARASITOIDS

Unknown.


LOCAL DISTRIBUTION

China: Xinjiang (Hami/Kumul; Barkol; Xayar).

Mongolia: Hovd Prov. (Dzhungarian Gobi, Uvhod-Ula Mts., 15-45 km SW Bulgan, 1350m; Dzhungarian Gobi, 20 km N Zeegijn border post, 1400m (45°17'N 92°09'E)); Gov'-Altai Prov. (Zahuin Gov' Desert, near Tahilt (45°01'N 96°28'E); Lake Alag-Nuur, near Ajlyn-Tsagan-Khuduk, 1300m (45°09'N 94°30'E)).


GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION

Northwestern China and southwestern Mongolia (Saldaitis & Ivinskis, 2006; Yakovlev, Gus'kova, Doroshkin & Titov, 2015; Yakovlev & Doroshkin, 2017). Also southern Tajikistan, southern Uzbekistan and southern Turkmenistan (Shchetkin, 1956; Derzhavets, 1984).


Global distribution of Hyles chamyla. Map: © NHMUK.

BIOGEOGRAPHICAL AFFILIATION

Holarctic; western Palaearctic region. Pleistocene refuge: Monocentric -- Turanoeremic refuge.



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