Short Communication
Short Communication
Alucitidae (Lepidoptera), a new family for the Mongolian fauna
expand article infoPetr Ustjuzhanin, Vasily Kovtunovich§, Roman Yakovlev|
‡ Altai State University Russia, Novosibirsk, Russia
§ Moscow Society of Nature Explorers, Moscow, Russia
| Altai State University, Barnaul, Russia
Open Access


Lepidoptera family Alucitidae is reported for the first time for the fauna of Mongolia. Alucita helena Ustjuzhanin, 1993 was discovered in West Mongolia in the ranges of the Dzun-Dzhargalant-Khairkhan.


The Lepidoptera fauna of Mongolia in general, and that of the Mongolian Altai in particular, is still poorly known. There are relatively detailed records available for the Papilionoidea (Tshikolovets et al. 2009; Yakovlev 2012), Sphingidae (Derzhavets 1977; Yakovlev et al. 2015), Zygaenidae (Efetov et al. 2012), Cossidae (Yakovlev 2004, 2015), Notodontidae (Schintlmeister 2008), Eupithecia (Geometridae) (Mironov and Galsworthy 2014), and Pterophoridae (Ustjuzhanin and Kovtunovich 2008). There were no detailed records for other lepidopteran taxa currently available.

Much new information was obtained on the distribution and systematics of Lepidoptera of Mongolia during expeditions by entomologists and botanists from the Altai State University (Barnaul, Russia) starting in 1999. These studies were concentrated in the territory of West Mongolia, primarily in the Mongolian Altai Mountains (aimaks Bayan-Ulegei, Khovd and Gobi-Altai). During the expedition of 2015 in the ranges of Dzun-Dzhargalant-Khairkhan, a large series of Alucita helena Ustjuzhanin, 1993 of the family Alucitidae (Lepidoptera) was collected. This species is a new family record for Mongolia. The “many-plumed moths” of the world include 216 species (van Nieukerken et al. 2011).

Material and methods

Adult Alucitidae were collected using a combination of a Philips−250 W lamp mounted above a fabric screen and battery-powered light traps using TL 8W/05 lamps. Chloroform was used as a killing agent. The collected material is deposited in the private collection of the first and second authors.


Alucita helena Ustjuzhanin, 1993

Figs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Alucita helena Ustjuzhanin, 1993: 83. Type locality: Russia, Altai Republic, Ongudai District, village of Inya.

Material examined

112 ex. from Western Mongolia, Khovd Aimak, Dzun-Dzhargalant-Khairkhan, Ar-Shatyn-Gol River, N47°44’ / E92°27’, 2100 m,, leg. R. Yakovlev.


In addition to the type locality, specimens of A. helena were examined from the Republic of Altai (Ongudai District, near B. Yaloman village; Kosh-Agach District, 15 km up from Beltir village, Chagan River; Kosh-Agach District, 15 km E Kokorya; Ust-Kan District, Shiverta River Valley, 5 km SW of Beshozek village; Ulagan District, 10 km NW of Aktash village, Chuya road) (Fig. 4). Probably larvae of this species are associated with Lonicera (Caprifoliaceae) (Zagulajev 1986). There are two generations with adults of the first flying in June and those of the second in August. The adults of the second generation are larger and darker than those of the first.

Figure 1.

Alucita helena Ustjuzhanin, 1993. Adult male, Mongolia.

Figure 2.

Male genitalia of Alucita helena.

Figure 3.

Female genitalia of Alucita helena.

Figure 4.

Distribution of Alucita helena.

Specimens were collected in Mongolia at Khar Us Nuur National Park, Dzhargalant-Khairkhan Ridge (Fig. 5). The 850 000 ha park is located 45 km southeast of the center of Khovd Aimak. In the central portion of the park there are lakes Khar Us, Khar, and Durgun. The park includes the Chono Kharaih River and the eastern spurs of Dzhargalant-Khairkhan.

Figure 5.

Biotope at collecting locality of Alucita helena in Mongolia.

According to the new botanical-geographical zonation scheme for Mongolia (Kamelin 2010), the Dzhargalant-Khairkhan Ridge is located in the boreal region, steppe subregion of the Tuva-Mongolian Province, Khovd District. The eastern macroslope of the ridge borders the Lacustrine-Basin District and in the South the Shargyn Gobi exclave of the Gobi Subregion. The predominant type of the ridge vegetation is steppe with dry and desert areas reaching 3000 m.a.s.l. The extent of desert plant species in this steppe is not great, in contrast to the Shargyn Gobi exclave steppe where they predominate. In the foothills and middle mountains of Dzhargalant-Khairkhan, the desert steppe is widespread. Steppe plants occupy plains and slopes of the mountains at the altitudes of 1700 (2100)−2250 (2300) m.a.s.l. (Karamysheva et al. 1984). A petrophyte vegetation has developed on the steep slopes of the ridge while a vegetation of rocky substrates occurs on the ravine bottoms and in valleys (Pyak 2006). Poplar forests of Populus laurifolia Ledeb. (Salicaceae) and the shrub Lonicera microphylla Willd. Ex. Schult. (Caprifoliaceae) grow on rocky substrates along the river valleys. Salix ledebouriana Trautv. (Salicaceae) and Rhodiola krylovii A.V. Polozii & N.V. Revyakina (Crassulaceae) occur in narrow gorges. The highland ridge belt is occupied by the kobresia and kobresia-sedge alpine heathlands and the cryophilic meadow-steppe where Papaver pseudotenellum Grubov (Papaveraceae), Pulsatilla bungeana C. A. Mey ex. Ledeb. (Ranunculaceae) and Pedicularis achilleifolia Stephan ex. Willd. (Orobanchaceae) occur. During the field work in the National Park over 100 Lepidoptera species were collected. The material is being studied and results will be published later.


The composition of the Lepidoptera fauna of the Mongolian Altai appears rich and the discovery of a new family in this region clearly indicates that other interesting taxa will be discovered. Also of interest is the relative disjunction of the Mongolian population of A. helena from other known localities for the species (Fig. 4).


We are grateful to A.I. Shmakov, A. Kechaikin, I. Evdokimov, V. Doroshkin, A. Cherepanov and U. Beket for their assistance in organizing the expedition; to P.A. Kosachev (Barnaul) for his help during the trip, the clarification on the willow species affiliation, and a detailed description of the vegetation in the mountains Dzhargalant-Khairkhan; and to А.K. Ustjuzhanina (Tomsk) for the translation of the article into English. The English text was corrected by Prof. Boris Kondratieff (Fort Collins, CO, USA).


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