Tarucus balkanicus (Freyer, 1844)


Tarucus balkanicus: Adult lower side (Askio mountains. N-Greece, Kozani, May 2008) [M] Tarucus balkanicus: Adult (Askion, July 2011) [N] Tarucus balkanicus: Upper side (Kozani, N-Greece, May 2008) [N] Tarucus balkanicus: Upper side (Kozani, N-Greece, May 2008) [N] Tarucus balkanicus: Lower side (Kozani, May 2008) [N] Tarucus balkanicus: Ovum at base of a thorn (July 2011, Askion) [N] Tarucus balkanicus: Ovum at base of a thorn (July 2011, Askion) [N] Tarucus balkanicus: The eggs are sometimes also deposited on the leaves (Askio mountains near Siatista, early August 2012) [N] Tarucus balkanicus: Larva (Askion, July 2011) [M] Tarucus balkanicus: Larva (Askio mountains, Greece, early August 2012) [N] Tarucus balkanicus: Larva (Askion, July 2011) [M] Tarucus balkanicus: Larva (Askion, July 2011) [M] Tarucus balkanicus: Präpupa [S] Tarucus balkanicus: Pupa [S] Tarucus balkanicus: Feeding pattern at a leaf (Askion, July 2011) [N] Tarucus balkanicus: Infested twig directly at a rock (Askion, July 2011) [N] Tarucus balkanicus: Habitat in the north Greek Askio mountains near Siatista, July 2011. I observed also Pieris ergane and Chilades trochylus. [N] Tarucus balkanicus: Habitat in Northern Greece (Kozani, Siatista; May 2008) [N]

Host plants:
The caterpillars live on Paliurus spina-christi (Rhamnaceae).

Habitat:
Tarucus balkanicus inhabits arid sheep pastures, rocky slopes and similar grasslands areas where the host plant (a bramble) is frequent.

Life cycle:
Tarucus balkanicus has several generations per year. I met adults of the first generation in Northern Greece in early May at the foot of slopes. I found caterpillars and eggs in late July 2011 in the Askio Mountains (Northern Greece) quite numerous at an extremely xerothermic slope in heat accumulation over stones, rocks and niches. Eggs are laid at the base of spines, rarely also on leaves. The larva has a characteristic feeding pattern with one to four mines strips in the longitudinal direction on the leaf.

Endangerment factors:
Tarucus balkanicus is threatened by habitat changes and overbuilding (e.g. east of Mount Olympus). Looking ahead, also a threat may arise from land use through solar farms, which may be constructed in ecologically valuable areas (Askion etc.).

Remarks:
Tarucus balkanicus flies locally in Africa and is found from the Balkans (from Croatia) across Turkey and the Arabian Peninsula to Central Asia.