GB: Poplar Hawkmoth, F: Sphinx du Peuplier, D: Pappelschwärmer, RU: Topolevyi Brazhnik, S: Poppel-Nattsvärmare, NL: Populierpijlstaart, CZ: Zubokřídlec topolový, H: nyárfaszender, E: esfinge del chopo, cuerno verde

Smerinthus populeti Bienert, 1870, Lepid. Ergeb. Reise Persien: 33.

Type locality: [Iran,] Meschhet [Mashhad]; [Iran,] ??Charlog.

(Taxonomic notes. (i) Subsp. populetorum (Staudinger, 1887) is not tenable as it differs little from subsp. populeti, the characters of each being found within the range of the other. It is therefore synonymized with subsp. populeti. The same applies to subsp. syriaca (Gehlen, 1932a).

(ii) Eitschberger et al. (1989) unnecessarily reverted populeti to specific rank without giving any reason, other than that the cornuti in the male aedeagus are fewer in number and less robust. As the genitalia are naturally variable in most Smerinthini, minor variations such as these tend to have little taxonomic significance.)


Holarctic; western Palaearctic region. Pleistocene refuge: Monocentric -- Iranian.


Male Laothoe populi populeti, Turkey. Photo: © NHMUK.

Wingspan: 70--120mm. Very like subsp. populi, but with no violet tint to the grey pigmentation, which is itself paler and faintly pinkish orange. Many have a reddish tone (f. vera Staudinger) -- easily produced by subjecting developing pupae to heat, or grey replacing the pinkish tint (f. populetorum Staudinger). The eyes are olive-green -- in subsp. populi, they are usually dark brown. In the genitalia of most males, the lobes of the sacculus are of equal length but more slender than those in subsp. populi, especially the upper one; the aedeagus has fewer and thinner cornuti. The uncus is obviously broader and the gnathos longer than in subsp. populi.

Female Laothoe populi populeti, Turkey. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Male Laothoe populi populeti, Zharkent district, Almaty region, Dzhungarsky Alatau Mountains, SE Kazakhstan, Photo: © Sergey Rybalkin. Male Laothoe populi populeti, Zharkent district, Almaty region, Dzhungarsky Alatau Mountains, SE Kazakhstan, Photo: © Sergey Rybalkin.


As subsp. populi. However, many copulating pairs separate before morning, with the female laying some ova that same night.


Trivoltine; April/May, June/July and September. (When kept together under identical conditions, pupae of this subspecies hatch noticeably later than those of subsp. populi.)


OVUM: Pale green, almost sperical and large for the size of moth. As subsp. populi, but proportionately larger.

LARVA: Very similar to that of Laothoe austauti (Staudinger, 1877) in all its stages. The caudal horn is noticeably longer, more curved and stouter than in larvae of subsp. populi from western Europe, but never orange as in Laothoe austauti. The forehead may be pale blue in a few individuals.

Found from April until October.

Hostplants. Populus and Salix spp.

PUPA: Matt black or dark brown, rough (not glossy), unlike that of Smerinthus. Cremaster short, dorso-ventrally flattened, broad at base and terminating in a sharp point.


None recorded.


Transcaucasia, including the Republic of Georgia (Didmanidze, Petrov & Zolotuhin, 2013), Armenia (Dubatolov, [1999]; Didmanidze, Petrov & Zolotuhin, 2013; Wąsala & Zamorski, 2015) and Azerbaijan (Didmanidze, Petrov & Zolotuhin, 2013), eastern Turkey (de Freina, 2012; Akin, 2012), north-east Iraq (Wiltshire, 1957), the mountainous Iranian plateau (Brandt, 1938; Ghassemi, Alemansoor & Alehossein, 2009; Lehmann & Zahiri, 2011; Didmanidze, Petrov & Zolotuhin, 2013), and Turkmenistan (Danov & Pereladov, 1985), Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and eastern Kazakhstan (Alpheraky, 1882; Myartzeva & Tokeaew, 1972; Tashliev, 1973; Derzhavets, 1984), usually above 1000m. Also, the Chinese Tian Shan and limited areas of western Xinjiang Province, China, south of the Dzungarian Gap (Pittaway & Kitching, 2000).

Extra-limital range. None.

Global distribution of Laothoe populi. Map: © Tony Pittaway.


Europe and northern Central Asia as Laothoe populi populi (Linnaeus, 1758).

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