HYLES NICAEA LATHYRUS (Walker, 1856)

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

Deilephila lathyrus Walker, 1856, List Specimens lepid. Insects Colln. Br. Mus. 8: 172.

Type locality: Northern India.

(Taxonomic note. Synonymized with Dilephila [sic] euphorbiae by Hampson, [1893], Fauna Brit. India 1: 98. Reinstated as a geographical variety by Staudinger, 1901, in Staudinger & Rebel, Cat. Lepid. Pal. Faunen. 1: 103. Synonymized with Celerio nicaea as a subspecies by Rothschild & Jordan, 1903, Novit. zool. 9 (suppl.): 727.)


BIOGEOGRAPHICAL AFFILIATION

Holarctic; western Palaearctic region. Pleistocene refuge: Monocentric -- northern section of Sindian refuge.


ADULT DESCRIPTION AND VARIATION

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

Wingspan: 80--100mm. Variable both in size and in the amount of dark markings on the forewing.


ADULT BIOLOGY

Occurs on dry, almost desertic, stony slopes at high altitudes, usually between 3600 and 4000m altitude in Ladakh, India (Smetacek & Kitching, 2012).


FLIGHT-TIME

Only recorded from mid June to mid July, indicating a single generation.


EARLY STAGES

OVUM: As subsp. nicaea.

LARVA: As subsp. castissima (Austaut, 1883). In some areas of Ladakh, India, where Euphorbia stracheyi grew singly, larvae of Hyles nicaea lathyrus were found in all instars. However, some valleys with scattered plants did not yield a single larva. Where they did occur, larvae were not rare, with one larva being discovered on perhaps every ten plants examined, but in one place where the plants could be described as growing gregariously, not a single larva was found, although more than a hundred plants were examined. The noteworthy point was that each plant generally supported only a single larva, whatever its stage of development (Smetacek & Kitching, 2012).

Hostplants. Herbaceous Euphorbia spp., with Euphorbia stracheyi recorded from Leh, Ladakh, Jammu &. Kashmir, India (Smetacek & Kitching, 2012).

PUPA: 45--50mm. Identical to that of subsp. nicaea. Pupates in a chamber formed of loosely woven sand and dry hostplant twigs, at or near the base of the plant (Smetacek & Kitching, 2012).


PARASITOIDS

None recorded.


DISTRIBUTION

Northeastern Afghanistan (Ebert, 1969), northern Pakistan (Rafi et al., 2014), north-west India (Kashmir/Ladakh, Almora, Nainital) (Smetacek & Kitching, 2012) and southwestern China (Xizang Province/Tibet).

Extra-limital range. None.


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

OTHER SUBSPECIES

The Atlas mountains of northwest Africa as subsp. castissima. 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).


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