HYLES CHAMYLA (Denso, 1913)

UK: Dogbane Hawkmoth, RUS: Kendyrnyi Brazhnik

Celerio hippophaes chamyla Denso, 1913, Dt. ent. Z. Iris 27: 37--39.

Type locality: Chamyl [Hami/Kumul], western Gobi [eastern Tian Shan, Xinjiang Province, China].

(Taxonomic note. Subspecies apocyni is not tenable and was, originally, regarded as a form by Pittaway, 1993. In many Hyles species which inhabit desert and semi-desert biomes, specimens from the more arid and hotter areas tend to be paler and smaller than those from less hostile environments; this appeared to be the case with Hyles chamyla. Shchetkin (1956) himself pointed out that many of the specimens of f. apocyni he obtained from the more fertile southern areas of Tajikistan were virtually indistinguishable from the type series from arid Hami/Kumul, China, although most were larger and darker in colour. However, mounting evidence indicates that Hyles chamyla f. apocyni is a hybrid between Hyles chamyla and Hyles hippophaes bienerti (Patzold, Marabuto, Daneck, O'Neill, Kitching & Hundsdoerfer, 2021). That the two species fly together and interact in the Vakhsh Valley of Tajikistan was pointed out by Shchetkin (1956), who confirmed the identity of both species from reared larvae. The two taxa appear to form a population group that is in the process of speciation, with ongoing admixture competing against continuous ecological differentiation. However, Patzold, Marabuto, Daneck, O'Neill, Kitching & Hundsdoerfer (2021) did conclude that further research is needed, including of nuclear data, to clarify the origin, development and maintenance of the pattern they found. Two possible individuals of Hyles chamyla f. apocyni are illustrated in Yakovlev, Gus'kova, Doroshkin & Titov (2015), as Hyles churkini, the status of which is unclear.)


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


Male Hyles chamyla, Hami/Kumul, Xinjiang, China. SYNTYPE. Male Hyles chamyla, Hami/Kumul, Xinjiang, China. SYNTYPE.

Wingspan: 52--75mm. Varies to some extent, with some resembling a pale, creamy Hyles hippophaes bienerti, others Hyles siehei (Püngeler, 1903). The pink area of the hindwing can be intense or faint, or even ochreous yellow.


A species of Elaeagnus/Apocynum thickets along river-banks and on river flood-plains. However, with the cultivation of Apocynum (dogbane) as a fibre-plant and the introduction of extensive irrigation projects, Hyles chamyla (or hybrids thereof) has/have spread along irrigation canals and become a local pest of cultivated dogbane in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (Gerasimov & Gerasimova, 1932; Shchetkin, 1956). Such human intervention has also facilitated the breakdown of barriers between Hyles chamyla and Hyles hippophaes bienerti.

An avid visitor to Cistanche flowers at dusk, along with Hyles hippophaes bienerti (Shchetkin, 1956). By day, most adults rest among grass tussocks.

Typical open riverine habitat of Hyles chamyla, Turpan area, Xinjiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.


Trivoltine; late April to mid-May, mid-June to mid-July, and late July to late August in Tajikistan (Shchetkin, 1956).


OVUM: Unknown, but presumably as Hyles euphorbiae (Linnaeus, 1758).

LARVA: Full-fed, 55--80mm. Dimorphic: khaki grass-green or bluish-grey.

Similar to that of Hyles hippophaes bienerti, a species with which it appears to share a common ancestor, but with significant differences. The coloration and pattern tend to remain the same for all instars. In the final instar the primary body colour is pale khaki grass-green, although some have a bluish-grey suffusion. The legs, prolegs, anal claspers, head and shield are of the same colour. The body is covered with small yellowish-white dots, but these are usually larger and fewer in number than in Hyles hippophaes bienerti, and may even be absent. The horn is yellow with a black tip. Spiracles pale with, in many, dark marks either side. Unlike in Hyles hippophaes bienerti, no dorso-lateral stripe is present and there is no elongated yellow spot at the base of the horn. A ventro-lateral yellowish-white band runs from thoracic segment 1 to abdominal segment 8. In some individuals the dorsal surface has a slight cinnamon hue, whilst others bear large but regular black patches (Shchetkin, 1956).

The larvae are voracious feeders and grow very quickly, particularly in the fourth and fifth instars.

Occurs from May to June, in July, and from mid-August to mid-September.

Full-grown larva of Hyles chamyla on Apocynum pictum, 15 km S of Bulgan somon, Uvhod-Ula Mts., Dzhungarian Gobi, Khovd Province, Mongolia, 11.vii.2007. Photo: © V. Anikin.

Hostplants. Apocynum venetum var. scabrum and Apocynum venetum (Shchetkin, 1956) [syn. Trachomitum venetum]. Recorded from Khovd Province, Mongolia, on Apocynum pictum (Yakovlev, Gus'kova, Doroshkin & Titov, 2015).

Apocynum venetum, hostplant of Hyles chamyla, Turpan area, Xinjiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

PUPA: Very similar to that of Hyles euphorbiae, but slightly smaller. Formed in a chamber in the soil, as with Hyles hippophaes bienerti. Summer pupae remain at this stage for only nine to fourteen days. Overwinters as a pupa (Shchetkin, 1956).


In Tajikistan, larvae succumb to tachinid flies (Shchetkin, 1956), but the species were not recorded.


Recorded only from southern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and southern Tajikistan (Shchetkin, 1956; Derzhavets, 1984). It may also occur in river valleys along the entire southern slopes of the Tian Shan into China, and in southern Turkmenistan as far west as the Kopet-Dagh (Ashkhabad), as its hostplant is common in these areas (Shchetkin, 1956). Reported damage to Apocynum plantations in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan by larvae of 'Hyles euphorbiae' was probably caused by this species (Gerasimov & Gerasimova, 1932; Durnovo & Pogodina, 1933; Shchetkin, 1956), but this needs confirmation as hybrids may be involved, i.e. apocyni, or an adventive population of Hyles exilis Derzhavets, 1979, which has been recorded feeding on Apocynum in China.

Due to confusion with Hyles hippophaes bienerti and Hyles euphorbiae, the exact distribution of Hyles chamyla is unclear.

Extra-limital range. Recorded from Hami/Kumul (the type locality) and Barkol in northern Xinjiang Province, China (Denso, 1913a; Danner et al., 1998), from Xayar farther west (Pittaway & Kitching, 2000), and from neighbouring south-west Mongolia to the north (Saldaitis & Ivinskis, 2006; Yakovlev, Gus'kova, Doroshkin & Titov, 2015; Yakovlev & Doroshkin, 2017).

Global distribution of Hyles chamyla. Map: © Eduardo Marabuto.

Map: Distribution of Hyles hippophaes and Hyles chamyla in Europe and Asia. Blue of differing shades and magenta squares mark occurrence points of the three infraspecific taxa associated with H. hippophaes; green triangles mark occurrence points for the two H. chamyla forms; black dots indicate genetic samples used in this study; red stars mark the type localities of the taxa; white borders indicate data points derived from GBIF. (© Eduardo Marabuto, in Patzold, Marabuto, Daneck, O'Neill, Kitching & Hundsdoerfer, 2021).

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