HYLES NICAEA CASTISSIMA (Austaut, 1883)

GB: Greater Spurge Hawkmoth, F: Sphinx Nicéa, D: Riesenwolfsmilch-schwärmer, RU: Nitstskii Brazhnik, H: görög szender

Deilephila nicaea var. castissima Austaut, 1883, Le Naturaliste 5: 360.

Type locality: Sebdou, Algeria.


BIOGEOGRAPHICAL AFFILIATION

Holarctic; western Palaearctic region. Pleistocene refuge: Monocentric -- Mauritanian subsection of the Mediterranean refuge.


ADULT DESCRIPTION AND VARIATION

Male Hyles nicaea castissima, Puits Baba, Algeria.

Wingspan: 76--110mm. Similar to subsp. nicaea (de Prunner, 1798) but distal edge of the median band of forewing straight, not bowed as in subsp. nicaea; dark apical streak usually absent. The black post-discal band on the hindwing narrower and separated from the black basal area along the costa, unlike that in subsp. nicaea.


Female Hyles nicaea castissima, Algeria. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

ADULT BIOLOGY

Occurs on dry, stony slopes up to 2000m.


FLIGHT-TIME

Bivoltine; May/June, and again during late July and August.


EARLY STAGES

OVUM: As for subsp. nicaea.

LARVA: As for subsp. nicaea; pale grey to black.

Pale larval form of Hyles nicaea castissima, High Atlas mountains, Morocco. Photo: © Brigitte Gennin.

Occurs from June to September in two overlapping generations.


Black larval form of Hyles nicaea castissima, Algeria. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

Hostplants. Herbaceous Euphorbia spp., especially Euphorbia nicaeensis.

PUPA: 50mm. Brown to pale buff, with a few fine markings. Otherwise as for subsp. nicaea.


PARASITOIDS

None recorded.


DISTRIBUTION

The Atlas mountains in Morocco, northern Algeria and Tunisia (Rungs, 1981).

Extra-limital range. None.


Global distribution of Hyles nicaea. Map: © Tony Pittaway.

OTHER SUBSPECIES

From southern Portugal and Spain across southern Europe to Turkey (including the Balearic Islands and south-western Bulgaria) as subsp. nicaea (de Prunner, 1798). The southern Crimean Peninsula (Ukraine) and western Transcaucasia as subsp. orientalis (Austaut, 1905). From Lebanon and northern Israel to western Xinjiang Province, China, and western Mongolia as subsp. sheljuzkoi (Dublitzky, 1928). Eastern Afghanistan (Ebert, 1969), northern Pakistan (Rafi et al., 2014), north-west India (Kashmir) and China (Xizang Province/Tibet) as subsp. lathyrus (Walker, 1856).


Male Hyles nicaea lathyrus, Sudhan Gali,  Bagh District, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, 7000', vii. 2012. Leg. Abdul Azeemi. Photo: © Mark Vincent.
Return to species list