HYLES DAHLII (Geyer, 1827)

GB: Smoky Spurge Hawkmoth, F: Deiléphile de Dahl, IT: sfinge dell'euforbia sarda.

Sphinx dahlii Geyer, [1827], in Hübner, Samml. eur. Schmett., Sphingidae: pl. 36, figs 161--164.

Type locality: Cagliari, Sardenia [Sardinia].

(Taxonomic notes. (i) Subsp. balearica (Rebel, 1926) is probably not tenable. Rebel described it from one specimen from Mallorca, thinking it represented an isolated form; however, most specimens from there cannot be distinguished from those from Corsica and Sardinia. This is in agreement with the findings of Meerman (1993). However, judging by the photo below (from s'Albufera des Grau) the population of Hyles dahlii on Menorca may contain a trace of Hyles euphorbiae (Linnaeus, 1758).


Hyles dahlii, Mallorca. Photo: © Martin Honey, NHMUK Hyles dahlii x Hyles euphorbiae hybrid, Menorca. Phptp: © Martin Honey, NHMUK Hyles dahlii (melanic form), Mallorca. Photo: © Martin Honey, NHMUK

(ii) The findings of Meerman (1993) also indicate that Hyles dahlii and Hyles tithymali (Boisduval, 1834) may share a common ancestry and that Hyles dahlii evolved in isolation on Corsica and Sardinia. A near identical course of evolution appears to have been followed by the butterfly Papilio hospiton Géné, 1839, which appears to have evolved from an isolated population of the North African Papilio saharae Oberthür, 1879 (Pittaway et al., 1994).)


BIOGEOGRAPHICAL AFFILIATION

Holarctic; western Palaearctic region. Pleistocene refuge: Monocentric -- the Tyrrhenian subsection of the Mediterranean refuge, from whence it appears to have colonized the Balearic Islands.


ADULT DESCRIPTION AND VARIATION

Male Hyles dahlii, Sardinia.

Wingspan: 65--85mm. Superficially similar to a dark, heavily blotched Hyles tithymali tithymali; not very variable. A characteristic feature of this species is the presence of three black dots down each side of the abdomen; all related Hyles species in the area have two.


Male of Hyles dahlii, Menorca, 2011. Photo: © Frank Deschandol. Male of Hyles dahlii, Menorca, 2011. Photo: © Jean Haxaire. Male of Hyles dahlii, Menorca, 2011. Photo: © Jean Haxaire. Male of Hyles dahlii, Menorca, 2011. Photo: © Jean Haxaire. Male of Hyles dahlii, Sardinia. Photo: © Tony Pittaway Female of Hyles dahlii, Sardinia. Photo: © Tony Pittaway

ADULT BIOLOGY

A species of rocky mountainsides and sand-dunes scattered with shrubs and pine trees.


Typical habitat of Hyles dahlii, Menorca. Photo: © Frank Deschandol.

FLIGHT-TIME

May/June and August/September, in two broods, with a partial third in warm years.


EARLY STAGES

OVUM: As Hyles euphorbiae.

LARVA: On hatching, the 3--4mm-long larva is off-white.

Fully grown it is dark grey with a profusion of small, whitish spots; head usually pink and horn orange. Instead of a solid dorso-lateral line, there are two oval, white eye-spots set in a velvet-black patch on each segment. Narrow orange dorsal line; laterally, a red and yellow chequered line runs below the white spiracles. Ventral surface yellowish.


Larva of Hyles dahlii in typical resting position, Sardinia. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Larva of Hyles dahlii, Menorca. Photo: © Frank Deschandol. Larva of Hyles dahlii, Menorca. Photo: © Frank Deschandol. Larva of Hyles dahlii, Menorca. Photo: © Frank Deschandol. Larva of Hyles dahlii, Menorca. Photo: © Frank Deschandol. Larva of Hyles dahlii, Menorca. Photo: © Frank Deschandol. Larva of Hyles dahlii, S'Albufera, Mallorca. Photo: © 'Flickr Quickr'. Larva of Hyles dahlii, Mallorca. Photo: © Jan Meerman.

Occurs from June to October.

Hostplants. Herbaceous Euphorbia spp., especially Euphorbia paralias, Euphorbia myrsinites (Roueast, 1883), Euphorbia characias, Euphorbia dendroides, Euphorbia pityusa, Euphorbia pinea and Euphorbia terracina.

PUPA: Very similar in appearance to that of Hyles euphorbiae. Overwinters as a pupa.


Pupa of Hyles dahlii. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

PARASITOIDS

Tachinidae: Exorista larvarum (Linnaeus), Masicera sphingivora (Robineau-Desvoidy).


Adult of Masicera sphingivora, Germany. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

DISTRIBUTION

Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearic Island of Mallorca (Rebel, 1934). Considered to be restricted to these islands, although there are occasional reports of its occurrence in Sicily. In October 1975, several larvae of this distinctive species were also found on the Catalan coast, north-east Spain (Masó et al., 1979). Recorded in 1998 from the island of Pianosa off the Tuscan coast, Italy (Dapporto et al., 1999).

Recently reported from Tunisia, where individuals were deliberately released in the mid 1980's (Hundsdörfer, 2004).

Extra-limital range. None.


Return to species list