HYLES EUPHORBIAE CONSPICUA (Rothschild & Jordan, 1903)

UK: Spurge Hawkmoth; Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth, F: Sphinx de l'Euphorbe, D: Wolfsmilchschwärmer, RUS: Molochainyi Brazhnik, S: Vitsprötad Skymningssvämare, NL: Wolfsmelkpijlstaart, CZ: Lišaj pryšcový, H: kutyatejszender, E: esfinge de la lechetrezna, PL: Zmrocznik wilczomleczek, FIN: Tyräkkikiitäjä, I: sfinge dell'euforbia, HR: mlječikin ljiljak, DK: Vortemælksværmer, EST: Piimalille-vöötsuru.

Celerio euphorbiae conspicua Rothschild & Jordan, 1903, Novit. zool. 9 (Suppl.): 720.

Type locality: Beirut, Syria [Lebanon].

(Taxonomic note. (i) There is a disjunct population of Hyles euphorbiae in the Asir Mountains of Saudi Arabia which may warrant subspecific status. Until more specimens are available, it is tentatively placed in Hyles euphorbiae conspicua. Larvae and adults from most of the Asir are almost indistinguishable from those from Lebanese montane populations, although most adults are slightly darker in colour. However, some adults from the area just south of Abha are, in appearance, quite clearly intermediate between Hyles euphorbiae conspicua and Hyles tithymali himyarensis (Boisduval, 1834) (Meerman, 1988b) from Yemen, and probably represent hybrids. The larvae are also intermediate in colour.

Taxonomic note. (ii) To complicate matters, hybrids between Hyles euphorbiae conspicua and Hyles siehei (Püngeler, 1903) have been found around Karaman, Turkey.)

Adult of Hyles euphorbiae ?conspicua, Asir National Park, Asir Mountains, SW Saudi Arabia. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Dark larval form of Hyles euphorbiae ?conspicua, Asir National Park, Asir Mountains, SW Saudi Arabia. Image: © Tony Pittaway.


Holarctic; western Palaearctic region. Pleistocene refuge: Monocentric -- Syrian and/or Syroeremic refuge.


Male Hyles euphorbiae conspicua, Aleppo, Syria. Male Hyles euphorbiae ?conspicua, Asir National Park, Asir Mountains, SW Saudi Arabia.

Wingspan: 60--85mm. As illustrated in Pittaway (1993), but those from drier and warmer areas are smaller and lighter in colour, resembling Hyles tithymali deserticola (Staudinger, 1901). Those from cool mountainous regions tend to be darker. Individuals may also be heavily flushed with pink.

Male Hyles euphorbiae conspicua, Yesiloz, near Alanya, southern Turkey. Photo: © Tony Pittaway


An inhabitant of mountain chains running northwards from Israel through Lebanon and Jordan into Turkey and Iraq, where it frequents warm mountain-sides, river-banks and valley floors. Behaviour similar to that of subsp. Hyles euphorbiae euphorbiae (Linnaeus, 1758).

Typical mountain habitat of Hyles euphorbiae ?conspicua, Al-Foqa (Juzam, Al-Lieth), Asir Mountains, SW Saudi Arabia. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.


Multivoltine; April to October.


OVUM: As subsp. euphorbiae. Laid in clusters of up to 10 on the underside of hosplant leaves.

LARVA: Full-fed, 75--90mm.

Third instar larva of Hyles euphorbiae conspicua, Anatolia, Turkey. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

Resembles that of subsp. euphorbiae from Greece and Spain, with much of the black pigment being replaced by orange or greenish yellow. Some may even more closely resemble those of Hyles nicaea (de Prunner, 1798). At high altitudes, however, most larvae are blacker and more like central European forms of euphorbiae; such is the case with the Asir Mountain race from Saudi Arabia.

Occurs from April until November.

Black larval form of Hyles euphorbiae conspicua, 20 km N Antalya (500m alt.), southern Turkey, v.1996. Photo: © Pascal Régnier. Normal light larval form of Hyles euphorbiae conspicua, Izmir, western Turkey; on Euphorbia pontica. Photo: © Tony Pittaway. Normal dark larval form of Hyles euphorbiae conspicua, Alanya, southern Turkey. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

Hostplants. Herbaceous Euphorbia spp. In northwestern Iran on Euphorbia macroclada and Euphorbia denticulata (Karimpour et al., 2006).

Euphorbia characias, a major hostplant in Turkey. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.

PUPA: Indistinguishable from subsp. euphorbiae. Overwinters as a pupa.

Pupa of Hyles euphorbiae conspicua, Turkey. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.


Tachinidae: Chetogena aegyptiaca (Villeneuve, 1923) [syn. Spoggosia aegyptiaca (Villeneuve, 1923)], Drino galii (Brauer & Bergenstamm, 1891), Exorista grandis (Zetterstedt, 1844), Masicera sphingivora (Robineau-Desvoidy, 1830).

Fathipour et al. (2005) report Exorista grandis from northwestern Iran, with adults present in late May. Karimpour et al. (2006) report both this species and Masicera sphingivora from the same area.

Adult of Masicera sphingivora, Germany. Photo: © Tony Pittaway.


Israel (Eisenstein, 1984; Müller et al., 2005b), Jordan (Müller et al., 2005a; Katbeh-Bader, A., 2014), Lebanon (Zerny, 1933; Ellison & Wiltshire, 1939), Syria, southern and eastern Turkey (Daniel, 1932; de Freina, 2012; Kemal & Koçak, 2014; Kemal, Kızıldağ & Koçak, 2018), Armenia (Pascal Régnier, pers. comm. 2013; Wąsala & Zamorski, 2015) and northern Iraq into northwestern Iran (Danner, Eitschberger & Surholt, 1998; Fathipour et al., 2005; Lehmann & Zahiri, 2011; Didmanidze, Petrov & Zolotuhin, 2013).

Extra-limital range. An isolated population exists in the south-western mountains of Saudi Arabia (Wiltshire, 1986), where, to a very limited extent, it has hybridized with Hyles tithymali himyarensis along the southern edge of it's range.

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


As subsp. Hyles euphorbiae euphorbiae, from western, southern and central Europe to the Urals, southern western Siberia, the western fringes of the Altai Mountains and western China (Xinjiang Province). Also, northern Turkey, Transcaucasia, northern Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. Also introduced into many areas of the U.S.A. and Canada.

From Iran and the Kopet-Dagh Mountains of Turkmenistan eastward to central and eastern Afghanistan, ?Kashmir, the Pamirs and western Pakistan as subsp. Hyles euphorbiae robertsi (Butler, 1880).

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