LAOTHOE WITTI Eitschberger, Danner & Surholt, 1998

UK: Afghan Poplar Hawkmoth

Laothoe philerema witti Eitschberger, Danner & Surholt, 1998, Herbipoliana 4(1): 123--124, pl. 9.

Type locality: Paghman, 30km NW Kabul, 2100m, [Afghanistan].

(Taxonomic note. The DNA barcodes of this species differ significantly from those of Laothoe philerema, more than enough (7.2%) to indicate that it is a good species.)


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


Male Laothoe witti, Paghman, 30km NW Kabul, Afghanistan, 2100m. Photo: © Sphingidae Museum, Pribram. Male Laothoe witti, Tangmarg, Baramulla District, Jammu & Kashmir, India, 31.vii.2021. Photo: © Afaq Ahmad Dar

Wingspan: 120--140mm. Very similar to Laothoe philerema in appearance, but significantly larger. Like that species, it resembles a pale, poorly marked Laothoe populi populi, but with the rust-red hindwing patch of that species vestigial or absent.


Around Kabul, Afghanistan, it occurs at between 1800 and 2500m altitude (Danner, Eitschberger & Surholt, 1998); in India at an altitude of 1,596m (Riyaz, et al., 2021).

The 2020 Indian specimen was captured in an inhabited, agricultural area of the main Kashmir Valley with trees of Populus deltoides, Juglans regia, Robinia pseudoacacia, Ulmus sp., Salix sp., and Malus sp. (Riyaz, et al., 2021). It is thus likely to occur in similar areas across the rest of Kashmir, in both India and Pakistan.


Adults have been captured in mid to late July in India (6.vii.2020 and 31.vii.2021), and 20-30.vii.1962 in Afghanistan.


OVUM: Unknown.

LARVA: Unknown.

PUPA: Unknown.


None recorded.


So far, only known for sure from eastern Afghanistan (Ebert, 1969; Daniel, 1971) and, since 2020, from Tehsil Herman, Shopian District, Jammu & Kashmir, India (Riyaz, et al., 2021). On the 31 July 2021, another was captured at Tangmarg, Baramulla District, Jammu & Kashmir, India (Dar, Jamal, Khan & Ghramh, 2022). There is also an unconfirmed report from the nearby Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary.

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

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