Type species: pulcharia Doubleday, New Zealand, also Australia.
Synonym: Astheniodes Hampson (type species polycymaria Hampson
= subpurpureata Walker, New Zealand).
This genus was assigned to the Asthenini by Nielsen, Edwards &
Rangsi (1996), but the male genitalia have strong labides with somewhat
vestigial ventral transtillar processes, and lack the projecting sacculus
feature considered diagnostic by Pierce (1914). However, the facies of the wings
consists of a series of fine green or reddish fasciae running more or less
straight across a pale, often white ground as seen in many genera in the
Asthenini. The valve structure, reduced uncus and sclerotised scaphium are as in
the next two genera, but these features are also seen in Eupitheciini. Coremata
are present basal to the valves in many species, another eupitheciine character
The female genitalia have a distinctive signum reminiscent of the
inflorescence of some Compositae: a disc bearing numerous needle-like spines,
longer towards the margin.
The genus is diverse in Australia, with three species in New Zealand,
but one lineage with facies as in the Bornean species and strong coremata in the
male genitalia is widely distributed through the mountains of the
Indo-Australian tropics from Burma to Fiji and New Caledonia, occurring at lower
elevations on those Pacific islands. Two species are found in Borneo.
McFarland (1988) gave a detailed description of
the biology of the type species in Australia and illustrated the larva, pupa and
adult. The larva is moderately robust with a rather shiny thin skin and a
rounded head. The setae are black, the colour green or brown marked with
purplish brown and a broken white or cream lateral line. The host-plant was Astroloma
(Epacridaceae), the larvae feeding on flowers and developing fruits as well
as the older foliage. Common (1990) indicated that members of the genus fed
generally on Epacridaceae in Australia. This family is absent from the Oriental
tropics so the genus must have an alternative host-plant. McFarland (1979)
reared another Australian Poecilasthena species on Leptospermum (Myrtaceae).
Shrubs of this predominantly Australian genus are abundant at higher altitudes
on Bornean mountains, so it is a potential host-plant for Poecilasthena there.
The specific epithetic used by McFarland, ischnophrica Turner, is placed
in Scotocyma, not Poecilasthena, by Nielsen, Edwards
& Rangsi (1996), but voucher material in BMNH is definitely of a Poecilasthena
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