ISRAEL JOURNAL OF ENTOMOLOGY, Vol. 47, pp. 19–20 (9 July 2017)
http://www.entomology.org.il/publications; ISSN (online) 2224-6304
First record of Acherontia styx (Westwood, 1848)
(Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) from Israel
Oz Ri t t n e R 1 & il a n Bi e l 2
1The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Israel National Center for Biodiversity Studies and
Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 6997801 Israel.
2Mish'ol Kipod 6, Elat, Israel. Email: email@example.com
The genus Acherontia Laspeyres, 1809 of the Hawk-Moth family Sphingidae
includes three species. The only species known to occur in Israel so far is Acherontia
atropos (Linnaeus, 1758) (Müller et al. 2005a; Rittner pers. observ.), which is
distributed throughout the Mediterranean, Middle East, Afrotropics and Europe
(d’Abrera 1986). Eastwards it may reach as far as India (Sharma 2016).
On the 18th of April 2017, a specimen of Acherontia styx (Westwood, 1848) was
observed and photographed in the southern city of Elat. Although the specimen
Fig. 1: Acherontia styx (Westwood) as observed on vegetation in Elat. (Photo: I. Biel)
20 ISRAEL JOURNAL OF ENTOMOLOGY, VOL. 47, 2017
has not been collected, the photographs are clear enough for unmistakable
identication of this very well-known hawk moth, which is already known from the
neighboring countries. Acherontia styx (Westwood, 1848) is smaller (75–130 mm)
in comparison to A. atropos (100 –140 mm). The skull-like mark on the thorax in
A. styx is more uniform in color and the general habitus of the wings is brighter. It
is also differs from A. atropos in having two medial bands on the forewing instead
of one, and no bands on the underside of the abdomen (Hampson 1892).
Acherontia styx is a highly polyphagous species known to feed on various plant
families such as Labiatae, Bignoniaceae, Verbenaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Solanaceae,
Myrtaceae, Convolvulaceae, Oleaceae, Leguminosae, Pedaliaceae and others (Ro-
binson et al. 2010).
Acherontia styx is mainly distributed in the Oriental Region, but also found
in Mesopotamia and Eastern Arabia (d’Abrera 1986). It has been also recorded
in Northern Jordan from the Al Azrak (قرزﻷا) oasis (Müller et al. 2005b). These
have been the westernmost records of this species so far and its present discovery
in southern Israel stretches the western border of its distributional range even
Müller et al. (2005b) suggested that the record of this migratory species in
Jordan might as well represent a stray individual rather than a local population
(only one specimen was collected during that survey). This may also be the case
in Elat. It is therefore unclear at the moment if the Israeli specimen represents an
established local population or just a random migrant. Only further observations
will shed more light on the nature of its presence in Israel.
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