[April 12 - May 12, 2002]
It has long been our desire to travel to and collect beetles in the very south of Iran, in the Persian Gulf
region and this year our dreams came true. From an extensive literature search it followed that the best time
to visit this region would be April as most adults of the local species occur at this time. An especially
challenging task for us appeared to be a longhorn beetle whose name we just loved as soon as we first heard it:
This exotic beetle, associated with the True Date Palm also used to be known as Bagdadatocerambyx,
a name which we loved even more as it sounded very peculiar.
Our group met in the International Airport Istanbul. The weather in Turkey was cold and wet in the first
half of April. All the snow covered mountain peaks and leafless trees in the valleys of eastern Anatolia did
not promise much fun at all (Figure 1). Therefore, we drove straight to the Iranian border almost
without any breaks.
Figure 1 [Photo © M.Rejzek]
E Turkey, surroundings of Erzinzan, 13.IV.2002.
Entering Iran this year was a pleasant surprise. The central customs building on the Iranian side of the border
in Bazargan has recently been completely reconstructed providing travellers with very decent facilities and
very helpful English speaking staff. Also the weather started to improve slightly while we were descending
to the somewhat lower altitudes of northern Iran. However, cold windy periods were alternated by rain and
occasional hail on a daily basis.
Our first stop and camping site was planned for our favourite locality near the village of Serou in NW Iran.
The actual site is mountainous meadows with hardly any higher vegetation. The locality proved to be an
unusually rich source of new taxa. In comparison to the neighbouring countryside these meadows are not
heavily grazed but mowed to produce hay for winter stock feeding.
In the roots of Centaurea imperialis we collected larvae of
Helladia imperialis Sama et Rejzek, a species recently described from this
locality. Moreover, we found roots of Centaurea behen attacked by larvae of
another species, Semiangusta rebeccae Sama et Rejzek, currently being described from this locality.
Cardoria scutellata (Fabricius) was another representative of the tribe
Phytoeciini collected here. Pedestredorcadion scabricolle (Dalman)
and Pedestredorcadion hellmanni (Ganglbauer) occurred quite
abundantly too. However, by far the most interesting longhorn beetle collected here was a new, very nice
species of Pedestredorcadion (Kadlec, undergoing description) related to Pedestredorcadion
piochardi (Kraatz), a species known from NW Turkey.
On our way to the south, down the Zagros Mountains, we made a number of short stops (Nagade, Saqqez,
Divandarre, Horramabad, and Askaran) in mainly higher altitudes and concentrated ourselves on searching for
Pedestredorcadion. Pedestredorcadion hellmanni and
Pedestredorcadion scabricolle were the most frequently recorded species.
In addition we also found Pedestredorcadion laeve (Faldermann) and
Pedestredorcadion cingulatum (Ganglbauer), a species endemic to Iran.
The most interesting animal recorded here was a still undetermined Pedestredorcadion sp.
Apart from Semnosia mirabilis (Faldermann) and
Cardoria scutellata (Fabricius) there were hardly any other adult
Cerambycidae. On our return, Osphranteria coerulescens inaurata Holzschuh hatched
from larvae we collected in dead branches of an Amygdalus sp.
Figure 2 [Photo © M.Rejzek]
W Iran, prov. Lorestan, pass 52 km E Horramabad, 18.IV.2002.
We headed south down the Zagros Mountains to their southern extreme and stopped to collect there in the
surroundings of the city of Siraaz (Figure 3). In a mountainous steppe formation we discovered perhaps
the most spectacular Pedestredorcadion species ever, the legendary
Pedestredorcadion bruneicolle (Kraatz). We found out that the species is
associated with a still undetermined herbaceous plant. Another surprising discovery was the finding of a still
undetermined, and perhaps new Coptosia species, which resembles to some extent
Pseudocoptosia eylandti (Semenov). Moreover, from larvae found in Acer monspessulanum we reared
a still undetermined Purpuricenus species.
Musaria puncticollis puncticollis (Faldermann),
Agapanthia coeruleipennis Frivaldszky,
Phytoecia virgula (Charpentier), and
Pedestredorcadion hellmanni (Ganglbauer) represented the less
spectacular species recorded here.
Figure 3 [Photo © M.Rejzek]
S Iran, prov. Fars, surroundings of Siraaz, 20.IV.2002: a mountainous steppe formation.
In a really beautiful place called Dast-e Arzan in the same region (Figures 4 and 5)
we collected a really rare species, Xenopachys matthiesseni
(Reitter). On our return, Chlorophorus adelii Holzschuh hatched
from larvae collected in the dead wood of oak.
Figures 4 and 5 [Photo © M.Rejzek]
S Iran, prov. Fars, Dast-e Arzan W Siraaz, 22.IV.2002: a locality of
Xenopachys matthiesseni (Reitter).
Eventually we left the mountainous regions and started our descent to the
lowlands surrounding the Persian Gulf. The lower we went, the higher climbed the temperature indicated by our
thermometer. Starting from a comfortable 15 °C we ended up with 48 °C and really high humidity on top of it.
The early spring of the mountain region suddenly turned into an unbearable tropical hell. In a number of
different localities around the city of Bandar-e Abbas (Genu, Angohran, Minab, Hasan Langi, and Faryab) we
collected only one Cerambycidae species during the day: Osphranteria lata
Pic. The countryside in this area was, however, really spectacular (Figures 6 to 15).
Figures 6, 7, 8, and 9 [Photo © M.Rejzek]
S Iran, prov. Hormozgan, Angohran, 24.IV.2002: a river bed covered with saxaul
(Figure 6) and "intrepid explorers".
Figures 10 and 11 [Photo © M. Rejzek]
S Iran, prov. Hormozgan, Faryab, 27.IV.2002.
Figures 12 and 13 [Photo © M. Rejzek]
S Iran, prov. Hormozgan, Genu, 23.IV.2002: an arid habitat with Acacia sp. and Prunus sp.
(Figure 12) and Calotropis procera, host plant of
Niphona grisea Breuning (Figure 13).
Figures 14 and 15 [Photo © M. Rejzek]
S Iran, prov. Hormozgan, Minab, 29.IV.2002: True Date Palm (Phoenix dactilifera) the host of
Jebusaea hammerschmidti Reiche).
Very soon we gave up any attempts to do any collecting during the day and did not leave an air conditioned
hotel room before dusk. Attracting beetles to light and collecting at night using a torch proved to be the
most sucessful methods for this region (Figures 16 to 19). Among the species that were attracted
to our light trap were Iranobrium davatchii Villiers,
Derolus iranensis Pic,
Diorthus cinereus (Fabricius),
Idactus iranicus Breuning (also collected on its still undetermined host),
and the desired Jebusaea hammerschmidti Reiche. The greatest surprise however
came on our return home; Stanislav Kadlec sitting in his smoky study determined a strange looking longhorn
beetle which we attracted to light as Gnatholea soraya Breuning et Villiers.
This species was described in 1974 according to a single male specimen and to the best of our knowledge has
not been collected since. In addition, Niphona grisea Breuning was
collected on its host (Figure 13) at night. This species never came to the light trap.
Figures 16 to 19 [Photo © M.Rejzek]
S Iran, prov. Hormozgan, surroundings of Bandar-e Abbas, 23.-29.IV.2002: light collecting.
On our way back home we briefly searched the north of Iran (Tagarak, Aveg, Yele Qarsu, Helabad, Nir,
Bostanabad, Sefide Khan, and Marand) and besides several species mentioned already, we collected
Cortodera pseudomophlus Reitter,
Xylotrechus arvicola (Olivier),
Helladia pretiosa fatima (Ganglbauer),
Helladia humeralis (Waltl),
Helladia armeniaca iranica Villiers,
Pilemia annulata Hampe,
Pilemia hirsutula (Frölich),
Pedestredorcadion cinerarium danczenkoi (Danilevsky),
Pedestredorcadion sarabense (Holzschuh),
Pedestredorcadion semiargentatum (Pic),
and Pedestredorcadion glaucum descampsi Villiers.
Moreover, we collected larvae of Paracorymbia tonsa (K. et J. Daniel)
and reared adults on our return. The journey back to Istanbul was uneventful with one short stop in eastern
Anatolia yielding Pedestredorcadion wagneri (Küster)
and a Pedestredorcadion species related to Pedestredorcadion cinerarium (Fabricius).
And finally the "Good bye!" happened in Istanbul. My friends went home to Prague and I went back to Norwich
to serve the Queen.
Figures 20 and 21 [Photo © M. Rejzek]
N Iran, prov. Azarbaygane-e Sarqi, Sefide Khan 25 km S Tabriz, 7.V.2002:
volcano Kuh-e Sahand - 3710 m (Figure 20) and one from expedition members busy collecting
Pedestredorcadion (Figure 21).
Last but not least, we would like to thank all the unknown Persian people who we met on our journey
and who were extremely helpful and kind to us. We hope that they manage to preserve their very decent and
polite attitude to strangers even when tourists start streaming into their amazingly beautiful and spectacular
country. Thank you!