HYLES NICAEA SHELJUZKOI (Dublitzky, 1928)

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

Celerio nicaea var. sheljuzkoi Dublitzky, 1928, Ent. Z., Frankf. a. M. 4: 38--42.

Type locality: Turkestan [Kazakhstan], Wernyi [Almaty/Alma-Ata].

(Taxonomic note. Apart from size, this subspecies has no clear characters separating it from subsp. nicaea (de Prunner, 1798), so it may well be only a form. Hyles nicaea 'libanotica' is a large, less spotted, local form of subsp. sheljuzkoi from the Lebanon, Turkey and Iran, and certainly does not warrant subspecific status.)


BIOGEOGRAPHICAL AFFILIATION

Holarctic; western Palaearctic region. Pleistocene refuge: Polycentric -- Syrian, Iranian and Turkestan refugia.


ADULT DESCRIPTION AND VARIATION

Male Hyles nicaea sheljuzkoi, Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan. HOLOTYPE. Male Hyles nicaea sheljuzkoi, Zahlé, Lebanon.

Wingspan: 90--110mm. By far the largest subspecies of Hyles nicaea, but variable both in size and in the amount of dark speckling on the forewing, the most heavily dusted individuals being more common in Kazakhstan and China (Pittaway, pers. obs.). Some specimens even approach subsp. orientalis (Austaut, 1905) in the Transcaucasus region.

As with Hyles hippophaes (Esper, 1789), some specimens found above 2000m in Kurdistan and Iran may be considerably larger than normal.


Male Hyles nicaea sheljuzkoi, Turkey. Photo: © Mark Boddington Female Hyles nicaea sheljuzkoi, Turkey. Photo: © Mark Boddington

ADULT BIOLOGY

Occurs on dry, stony slopes at high altitudes -- up to 2800m in the Pamirs and above 1300m in Jordan (Müller et al., 2005a).


FLIGHT-TIME

May, July/August and sometimes September, in two or three generations, the third always partial. In Jordan there is a peak in July (Müller et al., 2005a). Only recorded from mid June to mid July in Kazakhstan, indicating a single generation (Yakovlev, Dubatolov & Titov, 2013).


EARLY STAGES

OVUM: As subsp. nicaea.

LARVA: As subsp. castissima (Austaut, 1883).


Final instar larva of Hyles nicaea sheljuzkoi, near Ariz, Cedar Mountains, northern Lebanon, 16.vii.2016, 1820m. Photo: © Christodoulos Makris.

Hostplants. Herbaceous Euphorbia spp., with Euphorbia oxydonta recorded from Jordan (Müller et al., 2005a).

PUPA: 50--55mm. Larger than but otherwise identical to that of subsp. nicaea.


Pupa of Hyles nicaea sheljuzkoi, Turkey. Photo: © Mark Boddington Pupa of Hyles nicaea sheljuzkoi, Turkey. Photo: © Mark Boddington

PARASITOIDS

None recorded.


DISTRIBUTION

Lebanon (Zerny, 1933; Ellison & Wiltshire, 1939), northern Israel (Müller et al., 2005b), western Jordan (Müller et al., 2005a), southern Turkey (Hariri, 1971), northern Iraq (Wiltshire, 1957), the northern Caucasus (Didmanidze, Petrov & Zolotuhin, 2013), the Republic of Georgia (Didmanidze, Petrov & Zolotuhin, 2013), Armenia (Didmanidze, Petrov & Zolotuhin, 2013 ;Wąsala & Zamorski, 2015) and Azerbaijan (Didmanidze, Petrov & Zolotuhin, 2013), Iran (Ghassemi, Alemansoor & Alehossein, 2009; Lehmann & Zahiri, 2011), Turkmenistan (Danov & Pereladov, 1985; Dubatolov, [1999]), Uzbekistan (Danner, Eitschberger & Surholt, 1998), eastern and southern Kazakhstan (Dublitzky, 1984; Yakovlev, Dubatolov & Titov, 2013; Shovkoon, 2015), Kyrgyzstan (Kondratiev coll., NHMUK), the Pamirs (Derzhavets, 1984), Afghanistan (Daniel, 1971), western Mongolia (Yakovlev, Ustyuzhanin & Doroshkin, 2005) and western Xinjiang Province, China (Pittaway & Kitching, 2000).

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. The southern Crimean Peninsula (Ukraine) and western Transcaucasia as subsp. orientalis. Northeastern 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.
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