New bioethological observations on Brahmaea (Acanthobrahmaea) europaea and its host plants in Special Area of Conservation “Grotticelle di Monticchio” (Basilicata, Southern Italy) (Lepidoptera: Brahmaeidae)

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Renato Spicciarelli *
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Renato Spicciarelli |


Brahmaea (Acanthobrahmaea) europaea Hartig, 1963, is an Italian endemic exhibiting an exceedingly restricted geographic distribution. In 1971, a protected site was established for the species: the Nature Reserve of “Grotticelle” (Basilicata Region). Then, the Reserve area was incorporated into the perimeter of the Special Area of Conservation “Grotticelle di Monticchio”. In 1997, for the first time, a group of B. (A.) europaea caterpillars was found in nature. During research conducted in 2013-2014, an egg cluster of B. europaea was observed for the first time, and other groups of larvae were found inside the Reserve. Additional information was acquired about mobility of the caterpillars during their development. Palatability tests allowed to attest Fraxinus angustifolia subsp. oxycarpa, Ligustrum vulgare and Phyllirea latifolia as food plants of the moth among those present in the Reserve. From spring 2015 to spring 2017 other bioethological observations on B. europaea were conducted, as well as surveys aimed to study the distribution of its host plants in the habitats of SAC “Grotticelle di Monticchio”. During 2016, ten egg clusters and numerous groups of caterpillars have been identified on 12 different trees. In 2017, an egg cluster was observed, and other groups of larvae were found. These finding allowed to observe other details on spawning and behaviour of the caterpillars, until to pupate. In addition, a map of local habitat 91B0 “Thermophilous Fraxinus angustifolia woods” is also presented.

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