THERETRA JAPONICA (Boisduval, 1869)

Female Theretra japonica. Photo: © NHMUK Male Theretra japonica. Photo: © NHMUK

TAXONOMY

Choerocampa japonica Boisduval, 1869, in Orza, Lépid. japon. Expos.: 36. Type locality: Japan.

Synonym. Choerocampa japonica Boisduval, 1869.

Synonym. Deilephila suifuna Staudinger, 1892.

Synonym. Theretra japonica alticola Mell, 1939.


ADULT DESCRIPTION AND VARIATION

Wingspan: 55--80mm. Forewing upperside with first and second postmedian lines fused; pale, parallel-sided band present between second and fifth postmedian lines but only slightly paler than the ground colour. Hindwing upperside with indistinct beige median band. Abdomen upperside with two obscure dorsal longitudinal lines.

In the male genitalia, uncus very slender, rounded apically, upperside convex but not subcarinate. Gnathos broad, parallel-sided, apex truncate with rounded angles. Harpe short, broad, hollowed distally, ridges bordering cavity notched. Aedeagus with narrow, band-like armature; proximal edge of left lobe dentate, right process short, dentate.


Male Theretra japonica, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway Female Theretra japonica, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway Male Theretra japonica, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway

ADULT BIOLOGY

In the Russian Far East a species of woodland areas characterized by Quercus mongolica. Active between 22.50h and 02.40h (females), and 23.40h until 04.30h (males) (Izerskiy, 1999b).


FLIGHT-TIME

China: iv (Guangdong; Zhejiang); v (Jiangsu); vi (Nei Mongol; Hubei); vii (Nei Mongol; Jiangsu; Shandong; Sichuan); 20.vii (Shaanxi); 31.vii (Zhejiang); viii (Hubei; Fujian); 3-13.viii (Zhejiang); 20-25.viii (Zhejiang); 31.viii (Sichuan, 2800m); ix (Shandong; Shaanxi; Beijing); 30.ix (Zhejiang). South Korea: vii (Inchon); 9 vii [(unstated locality)]. Japan: 21.v-29.viii (Honshu); 22.vi (Ryukyu Archipelago); 2.vii-4.viii (Hokkaido); ix (Hokkaido); 16.x (Ryukyu Archipelago). Russia: 18.vi-15.vii (Khabarovskiy Kray); 12.vii-12.ix (Primorskiy Kray).

There are between one and four generations a year in China, with one or two normal for Beijing and four for Jiangxi (Chu et al., 1979).

Park et al. (1999) give mid May until early September as the flight period in Korea.


EARLY STAGES

OVUM: Oval (1.25 x 1.52mm), pale green, slightly oval and shiny. Laid singly on both the upper and underside of the hostsplant leaves, but with often many to a plant. During damp, wet weather, many perish due to fungal infections.


Egg of Theretra japonica, 'Orioles Singing in the Willows', West Lake, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China, 19.ix.2016. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Egg of Theretra japonica, Beijing, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

LARVA: Full-fed 75--80mm.

Full-grown larvae were common on Parthenocissus tricuspidata growing over walls in Beijing on 8.vii.1995 (Pittaway & Kitching, 2000). This species is also very fond of mats of Cayratia japonica growing over shrubs in full sun (Pittaway, pers. obs. 2007).


First instar larva of Theretra japonica, 'Orioles Singing in the Willows', West Lake, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China, 12.ix.2016. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Third instar larva of Theretra japonica, 'Orioles Singing in the Willows', West Lake, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China, 17.ix.2016. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Full-grown green form larva of Theretra japonica, Beijing, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Full-grown light brown form larva of Theretra japonica, Shanghai, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Full-grown dark brown form larva of Theretra japonica, Beijing, China, 24.ix.2005. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

PUPA: 42--48mm. Colour sandy-brown, sometimes darker; sides of tongue-sheath, head, legs and wings dotted with black; wing-case with clearly marked pale veins edged narrowly greyish. There is a very narrow brownish-green dorsal stripe from 2 to 13 and an obscure broad dorso-lateral stripe. The whole pupa is densely marked with short, dark streaks; the spiracles are black set in a black surround; the cremaster dark brown.

Less elongate and cylindrical than T. silhetensis. The tongue-case not projecting much frontad. Antenna slightly shorter than fore leg, which reaches to one-third the distance to the tip of wing-case, mid-leg to two-thirds that distance. There is a long, narrow coxal piece. Surface dull. Edge of tongue-case not shiny but mesially channelled. Head, thorax and sides of tongue-case coarsely but superficially wrinkled. Wing-case with surface minutely wrinkled. Segment 3 with some pits behind the spiracle of 2; abdomen very finely transversely wrinkled and shallowly pitted; hind bevels of 8 to 10 smooth, front bevels of 9 to 11 minutely pitted. Spiracle of 2 a narrow slit lying between the slightly raised, shallowly emarginate hind margin of 2 and a narrow, transverse, oblong lobe, its front edge raised, hind edge depressed, projecting from the front margin of 3; remaining spiracles oval, the surface rising gently to the central slit, which has a narrow, shiny rim. Cremaster cone-shaped, sharply pointed, shiny tip seen under a lens to be minutely bifid; ventral surface keeled, with a channel on each side of the keel.

An active species, which moves at the slightest disturbance. Formed in a loose cocoon among leaves and debris on the ground.


Pupa of Theretra japonica, Beijing, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Pupa of Theretra japonica. Image: Mell, 1922b Pupa of Theretra japonica. Image: Mell, 1922b Pupa of Theretra japonica, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Pupa of Theretra japonica, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

Larval hostplants. Recorded in China on Cissus, Colocasia, Hydrangea, Parthenocissus, Ampelopsis, Ipomoea batatas, Cayratia japonica and Vitis (Mell, 1922b; Yang, 1978; Chu et al., 1979; Chu & Wang, 1980). A record on Saxifraga stolonifera (Chu et al., 1979) requires confirmation, while another, on Hedera nepalensis var. sinensis (Yang, 1978), is probably erroneous.

In August 2004 numerous eggs and larvae were found on Ludwigia along a lake at Hangzhou, Zhejiang (Pittaway, pers. obs. 2004). These same plants were also being utilized by Theretra silhetensis. Elsewhere around Hangzhou, and Shanghai and Beijing, the main host was Cayratia japonica.

In Metro-Manila, the Philippines, larvae have also been found on various species of Cayratia (Dvořák, 2014).


Flowering mat of Cayratia japonica, West Lake, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Cayratia japonica, West Lake, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

Recorded in Korea on Colocasia antiquorum, Oenothera erythrosepala, Circaea mollis and Hydrangea paniculata (Park et al., 1999).

Recorded in Japan from Hydrangea paniculata (Nozakai & Miyata, 1989), as well as Ampelopsis brevipedunculata, Cayratia japonica, Circaea, Fuchsia, Oenothera biennis, O. stricta, Parthenocissus tricuspidata and Vitis (Inoue et al., 1982; Sugi, 1987).

Recorded in the Russian Far East from Vitis amurensis (Izerskiy, 1999b).

(Easily reared in captivity on various species of Epilobium, even E. hirsutum, but best started on smoother-leaved species.)


Ludwigia along a lake shore, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

PARASITOIDS


LOCAL DISTRIBUTION

China: Nei Mongol (Zalantun/Butha Qi; Chifeng/Ulanhad, Daguangdingzishan, 2061m); Heilongjiang; Liaoning (Huanren); Hebei; Beijing; Shandong (Qingdao; Weihai; Yantai); Shanxi (Taiyuan; Xiaxian); Shaanxi (Louguantai Forest Park; Xi'an; Xunyang, 1380m); Qinghai (Nangqian County); Henan; Jiangsu (Nanjing; Yangkou); Anhui (Mt. Huang Shan); Shanghai; Zhejiang (Tianmu Shan; Hangzhou); Hubei (Changyang; ??Lui Shin Tze); Sichuan (Batang; Chengdu; Kangding); Guizhou (Jiangkou; Leishan; Shiqian); Hunan (Shangzhi, 1440m); Jiangxi (Le'an); Fujian (Guangze, 1200m); Guangdong (Guangzhou; Jiufeng, east of Nan Ling).

Taiwan: Matsu Island.

North Korea: South Pyongan Prov. (Pyongyang).

South Korea: Baengnyeong-do & Daecheong-do; Seoul; Kyonggi Prov.; Kangwon Prov.; North Chungchong Prov.; South Chungchong Prov.; North Cholla Prov.; South Cholla Prov.; North Kyongsang Prov.; South Kyongsang Prov.; Cheju Prov.

Japan: Hokkaido; Honshu (Mt. Hanna; Taira; Tokyo; Yokohama; Mikaboyama, 750m; Kugenuma; Mt. Gozaisho; Fujimi Heights; Kisojihara; Ohdaru Spa; Kiyosato); Shikoku; Kyushu (Takakumayama); Tsushima (Sasuna); Tanegashima; Ryukyu Archipelago (Amamioshima; Okinawa; Ishigakijima; Yakushima).

Russia: Amurskaya (Blagoveshchensk); Khabarovskiy Kray (Slavyanka; Bolshekhekhtsyrskii Nature Reserve, Khabarovsk suburbs; Pivan; Kiselevka); Primorskiy Kray (Andreevka; Tigrovoy; Suifen River; Jankowski Peninsula; Promorskiy; Novovladimirovka; Ussuriysk; Vityaz Bay; Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve; near Kalinovka; near Zanadvorovka; Anisimovka).


GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION

Occurs from the Korean Peninsula and Primorskiy Kray, Russia, south through eastern and central China to Sichuan, Guizhou, Hunan and Guangdong; also in Taiwan and Japan.


Global distribution of Theretra japonica. Map: © NHMUK.

BIOGEOGRAPHICAL AFFILIATION

Holarctic; eastern Palaearctic region.



Return to Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic species list
© A.R. Pittaway & I.J. Kitching (The Natural History Museum, London)