30 May 2016

Death’s Head Hawkmoth in KFUPM – Record by Lorna Mackenzie

Lorna Mackenzie found a Death’s Head Hawkmoth Acherontia styx in her garden in KFUPM. Lorna photographed the moth and kindly sent me details and pictures which she has allowed me to use on my website. This is one of the three species of Death's-head Hawkmoth, also known as the Bee Robber. It is very fond of honey and can mimic the scent of bees so that they can enter a hive unharmed to get honey. Their tongue, which is stout and very strong, enables them to pierce the wax cells of the beehive and suck the honey out. This species is similar to the European A. atropos but differs in having two medial bands on the underside of the forewing, instead of one, and usually no dark bands across the ventral surface of the abdomen. The skull-like marking is darker and there is a faint blue tornal dot enclosed by a black submarginal band on the hindwing upperside. The forewing discal spot (stigma) is orange; in A. atropos it is usually white. There are two described subspecies, A. s. styx, and A. s. medusa but they intergrade widely, and authorities presently consider that A. s. medusa is just a wet zone/season form, and not taxonomically distinct. The variant referred to as A. styx medusa occurs throughout eastern continental Asia, from northeastern China (to where it is a migrant) and Japan, south through eastern China and Vietnam to Peninsular Malaysia and peninsular Thailand. Also found throughout the islands of the Malay Archipelago. A. s. styx occurs from north-central and western China westward across northern Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Iran to Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Death’s Head Hawkmoth

Death’s Head Hawkmoth

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