Psilotarsus turkestanicus (Semenov, 1888)

Kadyrov, Abdysalom Kh., Karpinski, Lech, Szczepanski, Wojciech T., Taszakowski, Artur & Walczak, Marcin, 2016, New data on distribution, biology, and ecology of longhorn beetles from the area of west Tajikistan (Coleoptera, Cerambycidae), ZooKeys 606, pp. 41-64: 43

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Psilotarsus turkestanicus (Semenov, 1888)


Taxon classification Animalia Coleoptera Cerambycidae

Psilotarsus turkestanicus (Semenov, 1888)   Figs 1A, B, 3A

Material examined.

Khatlon Region, Sarichashma env. [ Саричашма], a semi-ruderal plant community (37°45'N, 69°47'E), 1231 m, 25 VI 2014, 4♂♂, 2♀♀, leg. WTS; 2♂♂, leg. AT; 3♂♂, 1♀, leg. LK; 2♂♂, 1♀, leg. MW.

Although the species is distributed also in Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, most of the known specimens were collected in the Samarkand region in Uzbekistan. In Tajikistan, it was only observed in the north-western part of the country as far as the southern slope of the Gissar Mountain ridge ( Danilevsky 2010). The locality in Sarichashma, which is presented for the first time, extends the species range approximately 200 km to the south-east and is one of the first in the country.

Adults are active from early May to late July. In the hilly area of the Katagurgan environs (Uzbekistan), Danilevsky (2014) observed the mass flight of numerous males in the middle of a hot day (between 11 am and 4 pm) on 12 June 1992. This huge number of males was attracted by females standing motionlessly on the ground. Evidently, the daily activity of this species appears to be a unique behaviour among the representatives of the subfamily Prioninae  , which is probably correlated with the small size of the eyes in this species in both males and females ( Danilevsky 2014).

The larvae develop in soil, where they probably feed on roots of various plants. According to Danilevsky (2014), the larva found in Uzbekistan feeding on roots of Taraxacum kok   -saghyz and described as Psilotarsus turkestanicus   by Švácha and Danilevsky (1987) certainly belongs to another species common in that region: Psilotarsus hirticollis hirticollis  Motschulsky, 1860. Therefore, the larval stage of Psilotarsus turkestanicus   has not been described yet.

According to Danilevsky (2010), species of the genus Psilotarsus   Motschulsky, 1860 are often characterised by a very high degree of individual variability. This was also confirmed by us during examining of the collected specimens, which differed, inter alia, in details of elytra, punctuation of the pronotum, shape of the scutellum and size of the spikes on the pronotum.

In the Sarichashma environs, the specimens were collected in a semi-ruderal plant community (Fig. 3B, C) characterised by a variety of plants, including single trees. We observed flights of single males at about noon, although most of the specimens moved on the ground where they were fighting with each other and seeking females. Flying specimens sometimes became the prey of the European roller Coracias garrulous   , which is a very common species in some regions of Tajikistan. The beetles emit characteristic, audible sounds that make it possible to detect their presence. We noticed many circular exit holes in the ground, which probably belong to this species. It is also noteworthy that the culmination of the occurrence of this species probably took place shortly before or during our first visit to this plot on 25 June. However, when we came back to this location on 3 July, we did not find even a single specimen.

Because this site is located directly on the Tajik-Afghan border, it can be expected that this species will also occur in Afghanistan. On the other hand, the bordering Panj River may form a natural migration barrier, particularly for the females, which are probably flightless. It is noteworthy that two other related Prionini   species, Miniprionus pavlovskii   (Semenov, 1935) and Pogonarthron semenovianum   (Plavilstshikov, 1936), were also recorded in the immediate vicinity of the plot mentioned above ( Danilevsky 1999, Lorenc unpublished data).

The authors feel compelled to state that this plot is located in a strongly guarded zone just a few kilometres from the Afghan border. No foreigners are allowed to enter this area without the proper permits. Staying in this zone (especially at night) can have serious consequences from both the Tajik authorities and Taliban fighters from Afghanistan due to the large drug route in the region.