Pyropteron leucomelaena ( Zeller, 1847 )

Bartsch, Daniel, Pühringer, Franz, Milla, Liz, Lingenhöle, Arthur & Kallies, Axel, 2021, A molecular phylogeny and revision of the genus Pyropteron Newman, 1832 (Lepidoptera, Sesiidae) reveals unexpected diversity and frequent hostplant switch as a driver of speciation, Zootaxa 4972 (1), pp. 1-75: 39

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Pyropteron leucomelaena ( Zeller, 1847 )


Pyropteron leucomelaena ( Zeller, 1847)  

This inconspicuous species is widespread in the Mediterranean region. It can be confused with other small and grey members of the genus including P. affinis   and P. meriaeformis   , or small specimens of the usually larger P. hispanica   , P. maroccana   , P. koschwitzi   and P. borreyi   . Pyropteron leucomelaena   is characterized by the typically pure white fore coxa, the inner margin of the tegula, which is much narrower than in most congeners, white in male, orange-yellow in female, and the indistinct medial stripe of the abdomen. Furthermore, males have the antenna dorsally black (with a white subapical stripe in P. hispanica   , P. maroccana   ), forewing ETA large, cell between R3 and R4 very long, similar to other cells (ETA smaller, cell between R3 and R4 significantly shorter or reduced in other species), the discal spot narrow, widening towards the apex (broader, not widening towards the apex in other species), the abdomen and the anal tuft narrow and pointed, dorsally black, laterally narrow white (abdomen and anal tuft usually broader, the latter dorsally with white or yellowish scales in other species). Females of the typical subspecies lack the white margin of abdominal tergite 2 (present in other species).

Barcode analysis revealed a deep split of an average 4.1% between populations of P. leucomelaena   from Morocco and southern Spain and populations from the rest of the range. This correlated with small but consistent differences in the size of the discal spots and coloration of the abdomen. We thus consider both clades distinct subspecies. Notably, the type localities of all taxa combined under P. leucomelaena   belong to the range of the eastern clade, making it necessary to establish a new name for the western clade.

Biology and habitat. The hostplant for both subspecies is Sanguisorba minor Scopoli   ( Rosaceae   ) ( Tosevski 1986, and our own observation). We have bred the species from this hostplant both in the western and eastern part of its range. Notably, however, in Morocco the species is sometimes very abundant in places where Sanguisorba   is not present. Thus, other hostplants are likely to play an important role. Laštůvka & Laštůvka (2001) also reported oviposition on Geranium sanguineum Linnaeus   ( Geraniaceae   ) in Sicily.