New colony of Grass Jewel discovered!

New colony of Grass Jewel discovered!

One of the Grass Jewel females photographed by Dr. Mario Langourov on Thassos.

Last September, Dr. Mario Langourov, an associated professor in the Natural History Museum in Sofia, who also leads Spatia WIldlife butterfly tours, while on his family holiday on the Greek island of Thassos found a new colony of this rare species. The Grass Jewel, Chilades trochylus (Freyer, 1845), in Europe occurs locally in the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula [Greece and a doubtful record from Bulgaria (Slivov & Abadjiev 1999)]. The known range also comprises: Turkey, Egypt, Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan, C. Africa (Tolman, 1997: 100).

While on the island, a small colony of Grass Jewel drew Mario’s attention. He has observed several specimens during 8, 9 and 10 September, including 1 female, ovipositing on Andrachne telephioides. Habitat is a rocky terrain next to the sea shore with a scarce grasses – only Goniolimon latifolium  (to be confirmed) and Andrachne telephioides. All observed specimens occupied very restricted area and were not observed to wander far at all. They are nectaring on Goniolimon latifolium. Regarding ant-associations the only found ant species at the same place is Lepisiota frauenfeldi (Mayr, 1855), which confirm the literature data (Fiedler, 2006).
It should be noted that in the period of 1942—1944 many expeditions for collecting zoological, botanical, geological and other materials were organised by some Bulgarian institutions. Greek Aegean Coast and the Island of Thássos were visited in 1942—1943 by an expedition organised by the Royal Natural History Museum (now NMNHS) and The Sea Biological Station, Varna. Zoological results were published subsequently but, unfortunately, nothing about Lepidoptera appeared, except the record of Grunner’s Orange Tip.

After this unusual finding an extensive literature search has been carried out in order to find some published record about Grass Jewel on Thássos. The only result was that the species has remained unrecorded for the North Aegean islands for a long time and as far as the Island of Thássos is concerned it is really absent in the modern faunal lists and records. Hence, the species is now reported as a new for the Island of Thássos, and in fact even for the whole North Aegean islands.