Subject: Mediterranean Spurge Hawk Moth Hyles nicaea
Location: From Southern Europe to Central Asia
July 4, 2016 4:23 am
today I’d like to contribute another interesting hawkmoth caterpillar by a slightly older drawing – that of the Mediterranean Spurge Hawkmoth (Hyles nicaea) from southern Europe; though not from the New World, the asian and european species of the genus Hyles probably represent a relatively young neotropic branch of the Macroglossinae subfamily with a miocene transition to the Old World. A few amazing parallels in coloration and behaviour of these species can be noticed – to those of the Dilophonotini from the other continent; the striking colour pattern, physiognomy and habitus make them look very similar to members of the Pseudosphinx and Isognathus kinds (though they are officially not directly connected to them!) – and indeed many of them feed on very poisonous plants, making themselves unpalatable for most birds and other animals. And then, they also show a tendency for some gregarious behaviour in their younger instars… a very unusual characteristic for Old World Sphingidae. — Hyles nicaea is a quite big animal (compared with H. euphorbiae and other members), but its larvae live on poisonous Euphorbiaceae as well; their colour pattern could be associated with that of the orca-whale. The species’ living area is highly split into different biogeographical regions – making it difficult to define their real requirements on climate and landscape… and presenting quite some puzzles; they can be found along mediterranean coasts, or in high altitudes above 2000 m. I could occasionally observe them in the Karst area along the northern Adriatic coast. They pupate under stones or in other shelter, within a few provisional silk files. — Only a few information can be found on larvae of the New World – species (eg. H. annei, H. calida, H. wilsoni), and I didn’t see any picture of their caterpillars so far.
Many Thanks and Wishes for the great site, and a nice Independence day!
Signature: Bostjan Dvorak
Thank you so much for allowing us to publish your latest drawing. The information you provided is so interesting considering that a North American species, Hyles lineata, has an edible caterpillar that appears in such large numbers in southwestern desert habitats that Native Americans used them for their highly nutritious qualities.