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Contribution to knowledge of the Balkan Macroheterocera: new and rare species for Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Albania
expand article infoStoyan Beshkov, Viktor Gashtarov, Vladimir Hula§
‡ National Museum of Natural History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria
§ Mendel University, Brno, Czech Republic
Open Access

Abstract

The Balkan Lepidoptera fauna is still not comprehensively known. We present here some new records for three Balkan countries. Polymixis xanthomista (Hübner, [1819]) is confirmed for the Balkan Peninsula from Albania, Eriogaster inspersa Staudinger, 1879 is reported new for the Republic of North Macedonia (second locality in Europe), and Mythimna languida (Walker, 1858) is new for Bulgaria. Some other species (Ctenoplusia accentifera (Lefèbvre, 1827), Anchoscelis luteogrisea (Warren, 1911), Griposia bouveti pinkeri (Kobes, 1973) and Egira anatolica (Hering, 1933)) are confirmed for these countries. We provide illustrations of the species and their genitalia when necessary for confirmation.

Introduction

The Balkan Peninsula is one of the biodiversity hotspots in Europe (Griffiths et al. 2004) and is very rich in butterflies and moths (Varga 2014). On the Balkan Peninsula there are 13 countries, which have been unequally investigated for their Lepidoptera, especially as regards the nocturnal species. Bulgaria is perhaps one of the best explored countries and new additions to the national list are becoming increasingly difficult to find (Beshkov 2017). Northern Macedonia is less explored and new species for this country are still easily found. Albania is still poorly investigated, and in fact about 50 new species for the country have recently been recorded in a single publication only (Beshkov and Nahirnić 2018a). The poorly known faunas of such countries are mostly due to the paucity of local lepidopterists, little use of modern collecting methods and lack of through the year research (cf. “winter moths” in Beshkov 2018). For these reasons much of the research has been carried out by Bulgarian and west European workers (Beshkov 2014; Tóth 2019; Plant et al. 2020). Here we present some of the results from the years 2003–2020 and corrected data for a specimen of Eriogaster inspersa Staudinger, 1879 treated in Beshkov and Gashtarov (2014).

Methods

The collecting methodology involved two or three portable light traps with an 8W BL 368 black light and 8W BL812 black light tubes, both powered by 12V 9Ah batteries: a Finnish “tent trap” with a 160W mercury vapour bulb at the top of the pole and a 20W BL368 mini-lynx black light compact lamp over the catching pot below. An additional 20W BL368 mini-lynx black light compact lamp was also positioned about 70 m from the tent trap. The distance between the Finnish “tent trap” and the light traps, as well as between the light traps themselves, was sometimes more than 1 km, as they were deployed in different habitats and conditions wherever possible. All traps ran throughout the night.

After dissection and staining with a 2% Merbromin solution (Mercurochrome), the genitalia were fixed on glass slides in Euparal mountant. All genitalia slides were photographed with a Zeiss stereo microscope Stemi 2000-C with AxioCam ERc 5s digital camera. The moths and collecting sites were photographed with a Sony DSChX400v digital camera. The habitat of Eriogaster inspersa was photographed with an Olympus SZ-20 digital camera. The genitalia slides were prepared by S. Beshkov and are part of collection of S. Beshkov, which is part of the Museum collection (National Museum of Natural History, Sofia (NMNHS)).

In the case of the genus Agrochola sensu auct. we follow the taxonomic arrangement proposed by Ronkay et al. (2017).

Results and discussion

Results from years 2003 to 2020 are summarised. Most records are relatively new (2019–2020), and the only revised material is from an earlier period (2003–2013). We provide here data for seven species that are very rare in or new to Balkan countries.

List of the species

Lasiocampidae

Eriogaster inspersa Staudinger, 1879

Beshkov and Gashtarov (2014) reported and illustrated a single aberrant male of Eriogaster rimicola ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) caught in March. This specimen was collected in Northern Macedonia (that time known as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), at Middle Vardar river valley near Demir Kapiya town, 130 m, 41°24’12”N, 22°17’19”E, 08.iii.2013 (Fig. 1). The habitat is pseudomaquis with Quercus coccifera L., Quercus sp., Paliurus spina-christi Mill. and Platanus orientalis L., on limestone soil (Fig. 2). The specimen has incompletely developed hind wings and the forewings have a black elongate discal spot, not the round white spot exhibited by typical E. rimicola. According to Beshkov and Gashtarov (2014) perhaps low temperatures during the overwintering of the pupa were the reason for the black coloration of the discal spot. They did not dissect the specimen, remarking that the flight period was an anomaly. At that time E. inspersa was unknown from Europe. The specimen has now been dissected (gen. prep. 1/08.xi.2020 S. Beshkov) and we have established that it is E. inspersa Staudinger, 1879. Examination of the black discal spots shows that the black coloration is the result of leaked and dried haemolymph. Such a small black patch is also present on one of the hind wings. The male genitalia (Fig. 3) are very distinctive and correspond well to those of E. inspersa illustrated in de Freina (1988, as E. nippei) and Zolotuhin (2007). In fact, this species was illustrated and described as new by de Freina (1988) as Eriogaster nippei de Freina, 1988, later placed as a synonym of E. inspersa (see Zolotuhin 2007). Based on our record and information from Zolotuhin (2007), we confirm that specimen identified as Eriogaster rimicola inspersa Staudinger, 1879 in de Freina (1999) is not that species but a different taxon with autumn appearance that differs in the genitalia. The male genitalia of E. inspersa have a flattened, broad, plate-like vinculum (Zolotuhin 2007) whereas in E. rimicola the vinculum is narrow and short.

Figure 1. 

Eriogaster inspersa, male. North Macedonia, near Demir Kapiya, 08.iii.2013. Scale bar: 1 cm.

Figure 2. 

Collecting locality of Eriogaster inspersa. North Macedonia, near Demir Kapiya, 08.iii.2013.

Figure 3. 

Eriogaster inspersa, male genitalia. North Macedonia, near Demir Kapiya, 08. iii.2013. Scale bar: 1 mm.

Eriogaster inspersa was reported as new for Europe from Greece by Rosenbauer and Theimer (2016). The specimen captured in North Macedonia is more than 300 km distant and the spot in the Vardar valley near Demir Kapiya is hence the most northern and western point of the range of this species. As far as we know, there is no other similar Eriogaster species with a spring flight period known from the Balkans.

Noctuidae

Ctenoplusia accentifera (Lefèbvre, 1827)

SW Bulgaria, Struma river valley, rocky hill above the fishpond near Levunovo village, Sandanski district; ca 120 m, 41°29’29”N, 23°16’07”E, 18–20.x.2020, V. Gashtarov leg., 1 male (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. 

Ctenoplusia accentifera, male. Bulgaria, near Levunovo, 18–20.x.2020. Scale bar: 1 cm.

In Bulgaria C. accentifera was known only from a single specimen from the Rhodopi Mts, camp site below Trigrad village, Devin district, ca 800 m, 26.vi.1995, R. Radev leg., at light (Beshkov 2000). This is the second record for Bulgaria from a different region of the country, elevation and habitat.

Anchoscelis luteogrisea (Warren, 1911)

N Macedonia, Prilep Region, Babuna Planina, Pletvar Pass, 960 m, 41°22’12”N, 21°40’11”E, 27.ix.2019, marble stony area with Artemisia spp., Quercus trojana Webb, Ulmus spp. etc., S. Beshkov & A. Nahirnić leg., 1 male (Fig. 5), genitalia examined; SW Bulgaria, between S Pirin and Alibotush Mts, “Izvora” Spring above Petrovo village, ca 640 m, 41°24’58”N, 23°33’3”E, 29.x.2019, S. Beshkov & A. Nahirnić leg., 1 male, genitalia examined; SW Bulgaria, Pirin Mts, Vlahi village, 556 m, 41°44’27”N, 23°13’46”E, 27.x.2020, S. Beshkov leg., 1 male, genitalia examined.

Figure 5. 

Anchoscelis luteogrisea, male. North Macedonia, Pletvar Pass, 27.ix.2019. Scale bar: 1 cm.

Anchoscelis luteogrisea is reported here for the second time from both North Macedonia and Bulgaria. In North Macedonia it was known only from Velestovo near Lake Ohrid and in Bulgaria only from Kresna Gorge (Beshkov 2016; Beshkov and Nahirnić 2018b). Anchoscelis luteogrisea is a late autumn species, only recently identified from Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Serbia and Albania. Because of small differences there is a possibility of misidentification with the closely related species A. litura (Linnaeus, 1758) (Beshkov and Nahirnić 2020).

Griposia bouveti pinkeri (Kobes, 1973)

SW Bulgaria, Pirin Mts, Vlahi village, ca 560 m, 41°44’27”N, 023°13’46”E, 27.x.2020, S. Beshkov leg., 1 male (Fig. 6), genitalia with everted vesica examined (Fig. 7).

Figure 6. 

Griposia bouveti pinkeri, male. Bulgaria, Vlahi Village, 27.x.2020. Scale bar: 1 cm.

Figure 7. 

Griposia bouveti pinkeri, male genitalia with everted vesica. Bulgaria, Vlahi Village, 27.x.2020. Scale bar: 1 mm.

This is the second record of this species for Bulgaria, about 40 years after the first and from a fairly close location. In Europe G. bouveti pinkeri is known only from a few localities in Greece (Beshkov and Wegner 2004; Wegner 2002; Wegner 2011; Speidel et al. 2016), these two in Bulgaria, and from European Turkey (Ronkay et al. 2001). Misidentification with G. aprilina (Linnaeus, 1758) (= G. wegneri Kobes & Fibiger, 2003) is possible, but the genitalia, especially the aedeagus and vesica are very distinctive (Figs 7, 8). Differences in the clasper are easy to see after brushing the end of the abdomen. One of us (SB) checked a great number of specimens from Southern Bulgaria, Albania and North Macedonia, but all of them were G. aprilina, indicating that G. bouveti pinkeri may be very rare and local from those areas.

Figure 8. 

Griposia aprilina, male genitalia with everted vesica. Bulgaria, S Black Sea Coast, Ropotamo, 18.x.2005. Scale bar: 1 mm.

Polymixis (Xanthomixis) xanthomista (Hübner, [1819])

S Albania, Gjirokaster County, Mt. Lunxhërisë, between Mal Çajup and Erind Village, ca 1010 m, 40°10’57”N, 20°09’58”E, mountain steppe with Quercus spp., Carpinus orientalis Mill., and Acer spp. trees on limestone, 02.x.2019, S. Beshkov and A. Nahirnić leg., 1 female (Fig. 9), genitalia examined, gen. prep. 1./23.xi.2020, S. Beshkov (Fig. 10).

Figure 9. 

Polymixis xanthomista, female. Albania, Mal Çajup - Erind Village, 02.x.2019. Scale bar: 1 cm.

Figure 10. 

Polymixis xanthomista. female genitalia. Albania, Mal Çajup - Erind Village, 02.x.2019. Scale bar: 1 mm.

To date, the only two specimens of this species known from the Balkan Peninsula have been recorded from Bulgaria: one from Iskarski Prolom Gorge, Tscherepisch Railway Station and one from Lakatnik Railway Station (Slivov and Lukov 1976 [1977]). According to Beshkov (2000), there are two females of P. xanthomista in the Slivov collection at the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, one labelled “Lakatnik, 14.10.1965, Al. Slivov” [=Lakatnik Railway Station] and the other “Tscherepisch, 13.10.1965, Al. Slivov”. However, we doubt that these specimens are either correctly labelled or from Bulgaria. We suggest that they were received without labels and subsequently labelled, or that the labels were changed. Kolev (2002) and Ignatov et al. (2013) have described the doubt regarding the data of Alexander Slivov and why a number of his records should be treated as doubtful. This is supported by the fact that above Lakatnik Railway Station one of us (SB) collected many times in the autumn without being able to confirm P. xanthomista from the area.

Egira anatolica (Hering, 1933)

Albania, Mt. Thanës, near Bulqizë town, above Plani i Bardhë village, 833 m, 41°28’47.3”N, 20°9’12.2”E, 06.iv.2019, S. Beshkov and A. Nahirnić leg, 2 males, genitalia examined; Albania, Shkodra County, Stara village, Hot district, ca 500 m, 42°22’15”N, 19°28’13”E, 05.iv.2019, limestone area with Quercus spp., Carpinus orientalis, Juniperus oxycedrus L., Fraxinus ornus L., Paliurus spina-christi and clearing, S. Beshkov and A. Nahirnić leg, 1 male, genitalia examined. Second record for Albania, previously known from Qafa e Mollës near Tirana (Beshkov and Nahirnić 2020). SW Bulgaria: Struma valley, Skrinski Prolom Gorge, St. Todor Church near Boboshevo, 08.iv.2007, slopes with Astragalus spp., P. spina-christi, etc. S. Beshkov leg., 2 males, gen. preps 5–6./09.iv.2008, S. Beshkov, male genitalia with everted vesica on glass in euparal; Struma Valley, Kresna gorge, Kresnensko Hantche, ca 220 m, 41°46’59”N, 23°09’18”E, 02–04.iv.2003, S. Beshkov and M. Langourov leg., 3 males, genitalia examined, in micro vials in Glycerol; Struma Valley near Kamenitza village 200 m, 41°38’43”N, 23°09’59”E, 25.iii.2017, Maquis, S. Beshkov and B. Zlatkov leg, 1 male, genitalia examined, 04.iv.2003, S. Beshkov, M. Langourov, K. Ivanov & D. Tchobanov leg; S Pirin Mts, Malinova Burchina near Kalimantzi Village, 350 m, 41°27’58.6”N, 023°29’56.5”E, 09.iv.2005, Maquis, S. Beshkov, G. Petranyi and T. Harz leg.

Egira anatolica flies in early spring and is found in Bulgaria (Beshkov 2000), Macedonia (Beshkov 2014) and Serbia (Beshkov 2015). In Bulgaria it was known only from Rhodopi Mts, three localities reported in Zlatkov and Beshkov (2008) and from Belassitza Mts (Beshkov 2011), and it is reported here from more localities. The lack of records may be because of its early flight period and possible misidentification with other Egira species. Identification without examination of genitalia is generally easy, but for those with insufficient experience, dissection or at least checking of external genitalia after brushing with a fine brush is recommended. However, dissection is preferable as the size and number of the cornuti in the vesica are another differentiation between E. anatolica (Fig. 11) and Egira conspicillaris (Linnaeus, 1758) (Fig. 12).

Figure 11. 

Egira anatolica, aedeagus. Albania, near Bulqizë town, 06.iv.2019. Scale bar: 1 mm.

Figure 12. 

Egira conspicillaris, aedeagus. Albania, Tirana Region, Dajti Mt, Qafmolla Pass, 04.iv.2019. Scale bar: 1 mm.

Mythimna (Morphopoliana) languida (Walker, 1858) (= consanguis auct. nec Guenée, 1852)

SW Bulgaria, Struma river valley, rocky hill above the fishpond near Levunovo village, Sandanski district; ca 120 m, 41°29’29”N, 023°16’07”E, 19.xi.2020 (Fig. 13), V. Gashtarov leg., 1 male (Fig. 14).

Figure 13. 

Collecting locality of Mythimna languida. Bulgaria, near Levunovo, 19.xi.2020.

Figure 14. 

Mythimna languida, male. Bulgaria, near Levunovo, 19.xi.2020. Scale bar: 1 cm.

New to Bulgaria. In Macedonia it was known from Kicevo, 02.v.1981 (Pettersson 1990; Rezbanyai-Reser and Hausmann 2000). Recently reported as new for Albania in several coastal localities (Beshkov 2018; Beshkov and Nahirnić 2019). It has spread also recently in the rest of Europe: e.g. Germany (Heinicke 1997); Italy (Rezbanyai-Reser and Hausmann 2000); Spain (Yela and De Vrieze 2002), Sweden (Gustafsson and Malm 2021) or in Denmark (Karsholt and Nielsen 2013). In the Balkans known also from Central Greece and the Peloponnese (Hacker 1989). Mythimna languida is a palaeotropical-subtropical species known in Europe from the Mediterranean coast with some dispersal inland. In Bulgaria, as well as in the only locality in North Macedonia, the records are presumably due to migration. Mythimna languida has been found in the same locality with C. accentifera, another palaeotropical-subtropical species reported here.

Conclusion

In the Balkan Peninsula and within certain Balkan countries is still possible to find a species new to Europe, since the Balkans are insufficiently investigated, even for Macrolepidoptera. Some species, such as Anchoscelis luteogrisea, Griposia bouveti pinkeri and Egira anatolica, may be overlooked because for confirmation of the identification, full examination of genitalia is necessary. Most of the species reported here are on the wing in the early spring (Eriogaster inspersa, Egira anatolica) or late autumn (A. luteogrisea, G. bouveti pinkeri and Polymixis xanthomista) when collecting is sometimes problematic due to weather conditions. For some other palaeotropical-subtropical species found recently in the most southern and warmer locations of Bulgaria, such as Ctenoplusia accentifera and Mythimna languida, we are of the opinion that they have spread as a result of climate change. Similarly, some other species with palaeotropical-subtropical range previously recorded in Bulgaria from the southernmost area of the country have recently extended their range and have started breeding in the central parts of Bulgaria, e.g. Lindenia tetraphylla (Van der Linden, 1825) (Odonata) (Kolev and Boudot 2018) and Lethocerus patruelis (Stål, 1855) (Hemiptera) (Grozeva et al. 2013). In our opinion certain species with Atlantico-Mediterranean ranges such as P. xanthomista and Menophra japygiaria (O. Costa, 1849) colonised the Balkans from the Central Apennines to the Albanian coast directly, and not along the Adriatic coasts of Italy and Dalmatia (cf. Racheli and Zilli 1985; Schmitt and Varga 2012; Sucháčková Bartoňová et al. 2021).

Acknowledgments

We thank Marina Isaac (Kingston University, London, England), Stella Beavan and Bob Heckford (UK) for their kind help with the English.

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