Peloponnese peninsula forms an isolated geological and biological unit, to some extent independent on the rest of the Balkan peninsula. Peloponesse is linked with the mainland only by a narrow neck, which ensured the development of a relatively large number of endemic species in the past, comparable to the fauna of any mediteranean island. Cerambycid fauna of the Peloponnese is very manifold. Common southern species occur in quite large quantities there, as well as a relatively wide range of strictly endemic species. These two factors are the main reason of popularity of the Peloponnese among European entomologists.
The goal of our trip was particularly a plateau between the cities of Tripoli and Sparta, the Taygetos mountain range, coastal area near Areopoli and at last, but not least, a Menalo mountain range, about 30 km north-west of Tripoli. The typical vegetation is represented by a Mediterranean maquis in the lower altitudes and pastures with kermes oak (Quercus coccifera) bushes in the medium-altitude. The mountains are covered by sporadically well preserved forests, composed of black pine (Pinus nigra) and especially Greek fir (Abies cephalonica).
The expedition lasted 14 days. That should be a time long enough for us to visit all major sites in the Peloponnese without any stress. We have borrowed comfortable Volkswagen Polo at the airport, what proved to be a good choice later on. We often rode on communications where other cars of lower middle class would absolutely lose the solid ground under theirs wheels. Thus strengthened by the third member of our team we could dauntlessly set off into the unfriendly mountains.
We spent a few days on the plateau between the cities of Tripoli and Sparta at first. This area is one of the richest places of Peloponnese in entomological way of meaning. We gathered a large number of longhorns on various flowers and host plants, together with many species of the families Buprestidae and Scarabaeidae. The most remarkable species were: Calchaenesthes oblongomaculata (Guérin, 1844) ssp. oblongomaculata (Guérin, 1844) - on kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), Saperda quercus (Charpentier, 1825) ssp. quercus (Charpentier, 1825) - also on kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), Cortodera differens Pic, 1898 (= steineri Sama, 1997) - on cornflower Centaurea sp., Oxylia duponcheli (Brullé, 1832) – on Italian viper´s bugloss Echium italicum L. and Pilemia angusterufonotata Pic, 1952 (= inarmata Holzschuh, 1984) - on bugloss Anchusa sp. We also managed to find Oberea taygetana Pic, 1904 and Vadonia bisignata (Brullé, 1832), both on spurge (Euphorbia sp.). Adults of Agapanthia cynarae (Germar, 1817) ssp. cynarae (Germar, 1817) were sitting on stems of thistles (Carduus sp.). By sweeping we were able to catch Certallum ebulinum (Linnaeus, 1767) and Phytoecia caerulea (Scopoli, 1772) ssp. baccueti (Brullé, 1832) on plants of the family Brassicaceae, next to it we have also gathered Pilemia hirsutula (Frölich, 1793) on Phlomissp. sp. plants and many other more common species of cerambycids.
Calchaenesthes oblongomaculata (Guérin, 1844) Saperda quercus (Charpentier, 1825) ssp.oblongomaculata (Guérin, 1844) ssp. quercus (Charpentier, 1825)
Oxylia duponcheli (Brullé, 1832) Pilemia angusterufonotata Pic, 1952 Oberea taygetana Pic, 1904
Vicinity of town Areopoli in the southern coast of peninsula was the next, also very interesting site. Fauna of longhorn beetles was represented by different spectrum of species there. On our way to this seaside location we stopped at one locality in Taygetos mountains, where we found endemic species Helladia flavescens (Brullé, 1832) in the vicinity of the monastery. Adults were sitting or flying aroud their host plants – thistles. From this place we headed straight to Areopoli. There were the most abundant localities.On flowering Apiaceae plants and blossoming Spanish broom (Spartium sp.) we were collecting species such as Purpuricenus kaehleri (Linnaeus, 1758) ssp. kaehleri (Linnaeus, 1758), Purpuricenus budensis (Götz, 1783) ssp. budensis (Götz, 1783), Purpuricenus desfontainii (Fabricius, 1792) ssp. desfontainii (Fabricius, 1792), Purpuricenus desfontainii (Fabricius, 1792) ssp. inhumeralis Pic, 1891, Stenopterus flavicornis Küster, 1846, Stenopterus rufus (Linnaeus, 1767) ssp. geniculatus Kraatz, 1863, endemic Stenopterus atricornis Pic, 1891, as well as Paracorymbia pallens (Brullé, 1832), Stictoleptura cordigera (Füsslins, 1775), Clytus rhamni Germar, 1817 ssp. rhamni Germar, 1817, Chlorophorus sartor (Müller, 1766), Pedostrangalia verticalis (Germar, 1822) or Ropalopus clavipes (Fabricius, 1775). Velvety adults of Agapanthia kirbyi (Gyllenhal, 1817) were sitting on Mulleins (Verbascum sp.). In the vicinity of Areopoli we found cerambycids Parmena pubescens (Dalman, 1817) ssp. pilosa Brullé, 1832, which were sitting on their host plants - spurge Euphorbia wulfenii - at night, while adults of endemic Parmena novaki Sama, 1997 were still hidden in their pupal cells in dry trunks and branches of tree spurge - Euphorbia dendroides.
Purpuricenus budensis (Götz, 1783) Purpuricenus desfontainii (Fabricius,1792) ssp. budensis (Götz, 1783) ssp. desfontainii (Fabricius,1792)
Paracorymbia pallens (Brullé, 1832) Pedostrangalia verticalis (Germar, 1822)
Helladia flavescens (Brullé, 1832) Grammoptera auricollis Mulsant et Rey, 1863 Parmena novaki Sama, 1997 ssp. bipustulata Steiner, 1975
We decided to move to the Taygetos mountains right from this beautiful coastal locality, but the higher altitudes were permanently covered by clouds, which watered local deep fir forests by periodic rain. Despite the weather, we have found two adults of majestic Morimus asper (Sulzer, 1776) ssp. asper (Sulzer, 1776). We also recorded the presence of huge endemic ground beetle Procerus gigas ssp. duponcheli Dejean, 1831. However, unfavourable weather made us abandon this area soon and we headed towards Menalo mountains. We were attracted by local endemic species, especially Mallosia graeca (Sturm, 1843) and Anaglyptus luteofasciatus Pic, 1905.
Despite this very unfavourable weather - the sky was almost constantly cloudy, there was very often foggy and very frequently rainy - we managed to find a lot of interesting species, such as Anastrangalia dubia (Scopoli, 1763) ssp. moreana (Pic, 1906) (endemic subspecies), Callimoxys gracilis (Brullé, 1832), Stenhomalus bicolor (Kraatz, 1862), Brachypteroma ottomanum Heyden, 1863 and Grammoptera auricollis Mulsant et Rey, 1863 ssp. bipustulata Steiner, 1975, all of them on blossoming hawthorns (Crataegus sp.).
Catching a few adults of endemic and rare species Anaglyptus luteofasciatus Pic, 1905 was the greatest success for us. We beated them from blossoming hawthorns. We have also seen several galleries and exit holes of a quite rare species Rhamnusium graecum Schaufuss, 1862 ssp. graecum Schaufuss, 1862 in the cavities of maple trees (Acer sp.). With the help of cigarette smoke we managed to catch a few adults of this Greek endemic subspecies. Adults of Cortodera differens Pic, 1898 (= steineri Sama, 1997) – to us already familiar from the vicinity of cities Tripoli and Sparta – were sitting in a quite large amount on their host plants, everywhere on mountain meadows.In the foothills of Menalo range we observed many adults of impressive cerambycid species - Mallosia graeca (Sturm, 1843). This up to 3 cm long endemic species occurred on its host plant – sea holly (Eryngium sp.). The non-volant and wingless female were crowling clumsily on the ground among host plants or sitting at the base of their leaves, while the smaller and brisker males were actively flying around and searching for females. We have also observed females laying eggs into the soil near the root of the host plant.
Anaglyptus luteofasciatus Pic, 1905 Mallosia graeca (Sturm, 1843)
Mallosia graeca (Sturm, 1843) - female Mallosia graeca (Sturm, 1843) - male
Our expedition could contentedly resume its results after fourteen days. During that time, we have observed and caught more than a hundred of species of family Cerambycidae, which is a quite staggering number. Our expectations were fulfiled by one hundred percent. We recorded a lot of very rare species, even in larger numbers. It has appeared again, that Peloponnese - as many other areas of Greece and the entire Balkan peninsula - offers to the entomologist many interesting places, where lives the richest spectrum of beautiful insects.