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Melitaea telona Fruhstorfer, 1908   

Name in Tolman & Lewington (1997): Melitaea phoebe f. punica

Systematics: It has recently been shown by comparing sequences of mitochondrial DNA that this taxon, described from Israel (Jerusalem) and erroneously attributed by some authors (Hesselbarth, Oorschot & Wagener  1995, Abadjiev 1995, 2000, 2001; etc.) to the North-African Melitaea phoebe punica Oberthür, 1876, is specifically distinct from the externally very similar Melitaea phoebe. My attribution of the Bulgarian populations to this taxon is based on morphological similarities of my material from Bulgaria with the Lebanese material used for the aforementioned DNA analysis. We are currently conducting new DNA studies aimed at confirming or disproving this tentative attribution. Stay tuned!

Range: SE Europe (Hungary, Romania, Balkan Peninsula), Turkey and the Near East.

Distribution in Bulgaria: Insufficiently known due to the confusion of this species with Melitaea phoebe. Local in xerothermic lowland localities below 900 m a.s.l. in southern Bulgaria, so far found in the Struma valley, Rhodopi, Stara Planina, Black Sea coast, Strandzha (Abadjiev 2000; personal observations).

Habitat: Dry hot rocky and flowery places.

Bionomics: Preimaginal development probably similar to that of Melitaea phoebe. According to my observations (in print), has only one generation flying mostly from May to mid-June, unlike phoebe which has two generations at similar altitudes.

Conservation status: Insufficient data available at present, as even the distribution of this taxon has not yet been worked out in sufficient detail. IUCN category: Data Deficient.






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