Abraxas sylvata

Elm Harlequin ( Abraxas sylvata )

The Elm Harlequin or elm Fleckenspanner ( Abraxas sylvata ), also known as bird cherry tensioner, " bird droppings " or Traubenkirschen Harlequin is called a butterfly (moth ) from the family of the tensioner ( Geometridae ).

  • 6.1 Notes and references
  • 6.2 Literature



The Elm Harlequin reaches a wingspan from 32 to 45 millimeters ( 35-44 mm). He is up to 16 millimeters long. Both the front and the hind wings are white with gray, black, and yellow-brown spots. The abdomen (abdomen) is yellow with several rows of black dots. He imitated with the drawing of his wings bird droppings ( Vogelkotmimese ).

Egg, caterpillar and chrysalis

The egg is initially white: it is later greenish yellow. The surface is coated with a polygonal mesh pattern. The rosette-like micropyle is eight to neunblättrig.

The basic color of the caterpillar is white and runs at the ends of ocher yellow, but they can also be spotted yellowish- white or only white, there are several color variations. The body is but disguised its entire length with horizontal black stripes. The head and chest legs shining black. The adult caterpillar reaches a length of 29 mm.

The black- brown pupae is relatively short and thick. The segment cuts stand out a little brighter.

Because of its wings drawing he is actually unmistakable.

Geographical distribution and habitat

The Elm Harlequin is distributed from Spain and southern France over Western and Central Europe to East Asia. In the south limit of distribution along the southern margin of the Alpine passes, while in the north through the central Fennoscandia.

The habitat of the Elm Harlequin is the presence of the two main caterpillar food plants bird cherry (Prunus padus ) and mountain elm ( Ulmus glabra) coined. These include wetlands such as flood plains, shore edges and marsh forests and hillside and ravine forests and narrow stream valleys in beech forests.

Way of life

The Elm - harlequin flies in one generation from mid-May to late August. The Abundanzmaximum is reached in mid- July. Depending on the climatic conditions, however, the first moths can already early May and still be observed until early September. The moths fly during the day rarely and not become active until dusk. They sit during the day on trunks, branches and the top of leaves. If the moth disturbed despite its camouflage ( Vogelkotmimese ), it can be seen as a defensive behavior Feign Death, the yellow provided with several rows abdomen black dot indicates the inedible.

The caterpillars are found from July to September (or October). They feed ( spec Betula. ) Of the leaves of various deciduous trees, such as mountain - elm ( Ulmus glabra), bird cherry (Prunus padus ), wild cherry (Prunus avium), beech ( Fagus sylvatica), birch, hazel ( Corylus avellana ), wayfaring tree ( Viburnum lantana ). Pupation takes place in the fall in the earth. The species overwinters as a pupa.

Hazard and adverse effect

The Elm Harlequin is overall not at risk in Germany. However, the way in Hamburg is listed as critically endangered, in Lower Saxony and Rhineland -Palatinate as endangered. Occasionally even outbreaks are observed, which may result in complete defoliation of the caterpillar food plants.

Systematics and Taxonomy

The species was described by Giovanni Antonio Scopoli 1763 Phalaena sylvata first time scientifically. In the older literature the type appears in the combination Calospilos sylvata. The type species of Calospilos Hübner, 1825 Phalaena ulmata, a junior subjective synonym of Phalaena sylvata Scopoli, 1763rd In the more recent work is Calospilos Hübner, 1825 either as a junior synonym of Abraxas Leach, seen in 1815, or as a subgenus of Abraxas. Currently, two subspecies are distinguished:

  • Abraxas sylvata sylvata that nominotypical subspecies, in the largest part of the range
  • Abraxas sylvata microtate Wehrli, 1931, Japan