Type locality: Kasikoparan, Kars Province, Turkey.
(Taxonomic note. Up until recently this species was regarded as a subspecies of Saturnia spini; however, there are major differences in the ecology and early stages of the two species.)
Holarctic; western Palaearctic region. Pleistocene refuge: Monocentric -- Iranian refuge.
Wingspan 55--100mm, with females being the larger. Both sexes are almost indistinguishable from those of Saturnia spini.
In behaviour, very similar to that of Saturnia spini; however, Saturnia cephalariae occurs at 2000-3000m altitude -- Saturnia spini has only been recorded below 1500m. A species of montane steppe and rocky slopes.
May to June as a single generation.
OVUM: Oval, 1.4 x 2.2mm, greyish-white with olive-brown gum. Laid in clusters around flowering stems of the host.
LARVA: Full-fed 65--80mm. Monomorphic.
In all its stages very like that of Saturnia pavonia. Full-grown larvae are not black like those of Saturnia spini, but mainly green with black markings or bands.
Hostplants. Monophagous on Cephalaria procera, but will accept other members of the scabious subfamily (Dipsacaceae [now part of the Caprifoliaceae]) in captivity.
PUPA: 26mm. Dark brown to black, noticeably dorso-ventrally flattened, and 'comma'-shaped. Formed in a coarse, thin-walled, pear-shaped, double, unsealed brown cocoon at ground-level. The overwintering stage. Very tolerant of cold, dry conditions.
Species not recorded.
Confined to parts of the Anatolian Plateau above 2000m altitude, particularly eastern Turkey (Kars Province). It has also been found locally in the Turkish provinces of Erzurum, Van and Hakkari, at Manglisi (near Tbilisi) in the Republic of Georgia, and in Armenia (Zolotuhin, Didmanidze & Petrov, 2011); however, any records from outside Kars Province need to be carefully checked.
Extra-limital range. None.