NEORIS Moore, 1862

Neoris Moore, 1862, Trans. ent. Soc. Lond. (3)1: 321.

Type species: Neoris huttoni Moore, 1862.

A cold-tolerant genus of two-to-five 'species/taxa' endemic to the southern Central Asia, with one of the taxa penetrating westwards as far as Turkey. Closely related to Caligula Moore (1862), Perisomena Walker (1855) and Saturnia Schrank (1802). Included in the latter by some authors.

Peigler (1996) studied a small sample of pinned specimens and believed that there were at least four species in the Neoris group, namely huttoni, shadulla, codyi and naessigi. However, considering the vast distances and high altitudes of the distributions of these moths, he expected that up to a dozen species would ultimately be found to exist. Isolation by high mountains resulting in speciation is a well-known phenomenon in Saturniidae.

HOSTPLANT FAMILIES: Many trees and shrubs, but with a preference for the Rosaceae and Oleaceae.


NEORIS HUTTONI Moore, 1862 -- Hutton's Emperor Moth

GB: Hutton's Emperor Moth.

Neoris huttoni Moore, 1862, Trans. ent. Soc. Lond. (3)1: 321.

(Taxonomic note. The various subspecies of Neoris huttoni given here are regarded by some authors as being specifically distinct, with subsp. galeropa listed as a subspecies of Neoris shadulla (see Nässig, Naumann & Löffler, 2017). They also list Neoris huttoni alatauica O. Bang-Haas, 1936 (synonym of Neoris shadulla Moore, 1872) and Neoris haraldi Schawerda, 1923 (synonym of Saturnia stoliczkana oliva A. Bang-Haas, 1910). However, they do admit that the systematic structure of Neoris is confusing, a problem compounded by moths in any given population being very variable in size and colour from year to year. All taxa are treated as one species in this work as per de Freina, 1992.

De Freina (1992) synonymized the following names under shadulla (Moore, 1872), namely stoliczkana (C. Felder & R. Felder, 1874), schencki (Staudinger, 1881), oliva A. Bang-Haas, 1910, and haraldi Schawerda, 1923. De Freina retained the taxon galeropa (Püngeler, 1900) as a separate western subspecies (from Iran) allied to naessigi, which he described from eastern Turkey as new.)


A plate from Seitz, 1906-13.

Global distribution of Neoris huttoni. Map: © Tony Pittaway.

NEORIS HUTTONI NAESSIGI De Freina, 1992

Neoris huttoni naessigi De Freina, 1992, Ent. Z., Frank. a. M. 102(13): 245.

Type locality: 30Km SE Ovacik, upper Munzur Valley, Erzincan Province, Turkey.


BIOGEOGRAPHICAL AFFILIATION

Holarctic; western Palaearctic region: Monocentric -- Syrian refuge.


ADULT DESCRIPTION AND VARIATION

Wingspan 103--117mm. Superficially similar to Saturnia atlantica, but with a very distinct broad pale outer margin to the double postmedial band on all wings. Significantly larger than all the other subspecies of Neoris huttoni, and often very brightly marked.


Male Neoris huttoni naessigi, E. Turkey. Photo: © Chris Conlan.

ADULT BIOLOGY

This nocturnal species inhabits river valleys with a good growth of riverine trees and shrubs, occurring at between 1200 and 1500m altitude.

Most adults emerge from mid- to late afternoon, with females calling that same night. Pairing takes place just after dark and lasts for only a few hours. Both males and females are readily attracted to light. A very cold tolerant species, readily flying in frosty weather.


FLIGHT-TIME

Usually early October, with the entire population emerging within a few days of each other.


EARLY STAGES

OVUM: Oblong, 2.6 x 1.6mm, olive-green with brown gum, and extremely hard. Laid in strings of up to ten on twigs, but only hatching the following spring with the onset of warmer weather. The overwintering stage.

LARVA: Full-fed 80mm. Monomorphic.


Full-grown larva of Neoris huttoni naessigi, E. Turkey. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

Full-grown larvae are basically pale green and covered with short to medium length silver hairs. Dorsally, each segment bears a pair of narrow hair tufts composed of a few long hairs -- those on the abdominal segments are silver, those on the thoracic segments black. The true legs and spiracles are orange, with the latter being surrounded by a yellow ring. There is a thick yellow subspiracular line on the abdominal segments (edged above with black), and a large spot of a similar yellow colour on each anal clasper.

The larvae are lethargic feeders from beneath leaves, resenting disturbance as well as rain. Descends to the ground to pupate.

Hostplants. Mainly ashes (Fraxinus), but also found on pears (Pyrus), Prunus, quinces (Cydonia), spiraeas (Spiraea), Pistacia and willows (Salix). Can be reared on privets (Ligustrum) and sumacs (Rhus) in captivity, with large adults resulting from using bird cherry (Prunus padus) as a host.

PUPA: 30--35mm. Cylindrical, but tapering towards both ends. Uniform mahogany-brown with a yellowish patch between the eyes, and with a pair of hook clusters anally. Formed in a creamy-white to reddish-brown, semi-transparent, elongate, single-walled, unsealed cocoon among debris and leaves on the ground.


PARASITOIDS

Unknown.


DISTRIBUTION

Known from a limited area of east-central Turkey, from the provinces of Erzincan, Erzurum, Hakkari, Tunceli and Sivas, and also from Armenia and Azerbaijan (Zolotuhin, Didmanidze & Petrov, 2011).

Extra-limital range. None.



NEORIS HUTTONI HUTTONI Moore, 1862

Neoris huttoni huttoni Moore, 1862, Trans. ent. Soc. Lond. (3)1: 321.

Type locality: Mussoorie, Uttar Pradesh [Uttarakhand], northern India.


BIOGEOGRAPHICAL AFFILIATION

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


ADULT DESCRIPTION AND VARIATION

Wingspan 80--95mm. Smaller, paler and less well marked than subsp. naessigi, although some individuals can be very reddish/brownish.


Male Neoris huttoni huttoni (brown form), Chakrata, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India, 29.x.2008, Photo: © Sanjay Sondhi. Male Neoris huttoni huttoni (brown form), Himachal Pradesh, India. Photo: © Ric Peigler.

ADULT BIOLOGY

As per subsp. naessigi, but mainly at 1500--2100m altitude.


FLIGHT-TIME

September and October, although odd individuals may turn up in late August.


EARLY STAGES

OVUM: Oblong, 2.6 x 1.6mm, olive-green with brown gum, and extremely hard. Laid in strings of up to ten on twigs, but only hatching the following spring with the onset of warmer weather. The overwintering stage.

LARVA: Full-fed 80mm. Monomorphic.

Full-grown larvae are basically pale green and covered with short to medium length silver hairs. Dorsally, each segment bears a pair of narrow hair tufts composed of a few long hairs -- those on the abdominal segments are silver, those on the thoracic segments black. The true legs and spiracles are orange, with the latter being surrounded by a yellow ring. There is a thick yellow subspiracular line on the abdominal segments (edged above with black), and a large spot of a similar yellow colour on each anal clasper.

The larvae are lethargic feeders from beneath leaves, resenting disturbance as well as rain. Descends to the ground to pupate.

Hostplants. Found in April on wild species of pear (Pyrus) and apple (Malus). A minor pest of domestic apples in India.

PUPA: 30--35mm. Cylindrical, but tapering towards both ends. Uniform mahogany-brown with a yellowish patch between the eyes, and with a pair of hook clusters anally. Formed in a creamy-white to reddish-brown, semi-transparent, elongate, single-walled, unsealed cocoon among debris and leaves on the ground.


PARASITOIDS

Unknown.


DISTRIBUTION

The Himalayan foothills of northern Pakistan and northwest India, from Uttarakhand (Dehradun) to Kashmir.

Extra-limital range. None.



NEORIS HUTTONI GALEROPA (Püngeler, 1900)

Saturnia schencki var. galeropa Püngeler, 1900, Dt. ent. Z. Iris 13: 116.

Type locality: Kopet-Dagh near Aschabad [Kopet Dag near Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan].


BIOGEOGRAPHICAL AFFILIATION

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


ADULT DESCRIPTION AND VARIATION

Wingspan 85--100mm. Smaller and paler but similar to subsp. naessigi.


Female Neoris huttoni galeropa, Talysh District, Transcaucasus (nr Iran). Photo: © Andrey Timchenko.

ADULT BIOLOGY

As per subsp. naessigi.


FLIGHT-TIME

Late September and October.


EARLY STAGES

OVUM: Oblong, 2.6 x 1.6mm, olive-green with brown gum, and extremely hard. Laid in strings of up to ten on twigs, but only hatching the following spring with the onset of warmer weather. The overwintering stage.

LARVA: Full-fed 80mm. Monomorphic.

Full-grown larvae are basically pale green and covered with short to medium length silver hairs. Dorsally, each segment bears a pair of narrow hair tufts composed of a few long hairs -- those on the abdominal segments are silver, those on the thoracic segments black. The true legs and spiracles are orange, with the latter being surrounded by a yellow ring. There is a thick yellow subspiracular line on the abdominal segments (edged above with black), and a large spot of a similar yellow colour on each anal clasper.

The larvae are lethargic feeders from beneath leaves, resenting disturbance as well as rain. Descends to the ground to pupate.

Hostplants. Depending on altitude, found from April until August on wild species of Rosaceae.

PUPA: 30--35mm. Cylindrical, but tapering towards both ends. Uniform mahogany-brown with a yellowish patch between the eyes, and with a pair of hook clusters anally. Formed in a creamy-white to reddish-brown, semi-transparent, elongate, single-walled, unsealed cocoon among debris and leaves on the ground.


PARASITOIDS

Unknown.


DISTRIBUTION

The Alborz and Zagros mountains of Iran, the Kopet Dag straddling both Iran and Turkmenistan, and Armenia.

Extra-limital range. None.



NEORIS HUTTONI SHADULLA Moore, 1872

Neoris huttoni f. shadulla Moore, 1872, Proc. zool. Soc. Lond. 1872: 577.

Type locality: Shadulla, Yarkand River, East Turkestan [Xaidulla, Karakax River, Xinjiang Province, China].


BIOGEOGRAPHICAL AFFILIATION

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


ADULT DESCRIPTION AND VARIATION

Wingspan 80--95mm. Smaller, paler and less well marked than subsp. naessigi.


Male Neoris huttoni shadulla, Tian Shan, Kazakhstan. Photo: © Ric Peigler. Male Neoris huttoni shadulla, Tian Shan, Uzbekistan, Babatag Mts. 1700m. Photo: © Andrey Timchenko. Male Neoris huttoni shadulla, Tian Shan, Uzbekistan, Tashkent Prov. Photo: © Andrey Timchenko. Male Neoris huttoni shadulla (upperside), Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Male Neoris huttoni shadulla (upperside, rosy form), Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Male Neoris huttoni shadulla (underside), Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Female Neoris huttoni shadulla (upperside), Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Male Neoris huttoni shadulla, Fann Mountains/Zeravshan area, NW Tajikistan, 15.ix.2012, 2000m. Photo: © Debbie Scholes.

ADULT BIOLOGY

As per subsp. naessigi, but from 1100 to 3200m altitude. The adults emerge in the late afternoon and generally pair that same night well after dark. This is a brief affair, with females then proceeding to lay almost all their eggs before dawn.

Resting moths are very skittish and will drop to the ground at the slightest provocation before warming up and flying off to some nearby bush. Here they will rest with their wings either closed over their backs or held slightly open. The nocturnal flight is very fast and vigourous. Moths are very cold-resistant and in Central Asia can be seen flying in falling snow (Zolotuhin, Didmanidze & Petrov, 2011)

A short-lived species, rarely surviving more that 3 days. Females generally die within 24 hours of laying their eggs.


FLIGHT-TIME

Late September and October; however, in some years some populations may emerge as early as mid September.


EARLY STAGES

OVUM: Oblong, 2.6 x 1.6mm, olive-green with brown gum, and extremely hard and glossy. Laid in neat strings of up to 15 on twigs, but only hatching the following spring with the onset of warmer weather. The overwintering stage.


Eggs of Neoris huttoni shadulla, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Eggs of Neoris huttoni shadulla, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

LARVA: Full-fed 80mm. Monomorphic.


First instar larva of Neoris huttoni shadulla, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Second instar larva of Neoris huttoni shadulla, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Third instar larva of Neoris huttoni shadulla, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Part-grown fourth instar larva (green form) of Neoris huttoni shadulla, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Part-grown fourth instar larva (dark form) of Neoris huttoni shadulla, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Full-grown fourth instar larva (green form) of Neoris huttoni shadulla, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Final instar green form larva of Neoris huttoni shadulla, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Final instar intermediate form larva of Neoris huttoni shadulla, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Full-grown larva of Neoris huttoni shadulla (green form) on Rosa persica, Karatau Mountains, South Kazakhstan, 15.v.2019. Photo: © Dmitry Shovkoon. Final instar dark form larva of Neoris huttoni shadulla, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

Full-grown larvae are either green or greyish-brown and covered with short to medium length silver hairs. Dorsally, each segment bears a pair of narrow hair tufts composed of a few long hairs -- those on the abdominal segments are silver, those on the thoracic segments black. The true legs and spiracles are orange, with the latter being surrounded by a yellow ring. There is a thick yellow (or yellow-orange) subspiracular line on the abdominal segments (edged above and below with black), and a large spot of a similar yellow colour on each anal clasper.

The larvae are lethargic feeders from beneath leaves, resenting disturbance as well as rain. Descends to the ground to pupate.

Hostplants. Depending on altitude, found from April until August on wild species of spiraea (Spiraea), rose (Rosa) and pear (Pyrus), as well as other Rosaceae. Even Elaeagnus angustifolia and Tamarix has been noted. Zolotuhin, Didmanidze & Petrov, (2011) state that larvae can be common in Central Asia on Malus, Prunus, Crataegus and Acer. In Uzbekistan it has also been found on Pistacia, almonds (Prunus dulcis) and Ulmus minor, where it can become a minor pest of shelter belts containing these (Alimdzhanov, 1966; Alekseitsev & Tuzov, 1984).

[In captivity will feed on ashes (Fraxinus spp.) and smooth-leaved osiers (Salix spp.), but prefers various species of cherry, particularly Prunus padus.]

PUPA: 30--35mm. Cylindrical, but tapering towards both ends. Uniform mahogany-brown with a yellowish patch between the eyes, and with a pair of hook clusters anally. Formed in a creamy-white to reddish-brown, semi-transparent, elongate, single-walled, unsealed cocoon among debris and leaves on the ground.


Male pupa of Neoris huttoni shadulla, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

PARASITOIDS

Unknown.


DISTRIBUTION

A subspecies of the mountain chains which separate the western and eastern Palaearctic regions, from Ladakh to Krasnoyarsk and the eastern Sajan Mountains near Lake Baikal. This encompasses Jammu and Kashmir (India), eastern Afghanistan, western Xinjiang Province (China), Tajikistan, eastern Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, eastern Kazakhstan, the Altai Mountains of China, Russia and Mongolia, central Siberia as far north as Krasnoyarsk, and the Tuva ASSR, Russia, where it meets the eastern palaearctic Caligula boisduvalii Eversmann.

Extra-limital range. The provinces of Xinjiang, Gansu and Shaanxi, China (Zhu & Wang, 1993).

[Note: The records of this species from the Krasnoyarsk area and the eastern Sajan Mountains (Russia), as well as from the provinces of eastern Xinjiang, Gansu and Shaanxi (China), need to be verified as there is some doubt as to whether this species occurs in these areas.]


OTHER SUBSPECIES

None; however, see taxonomic note above.



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