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Poecilasthena Warren

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 (Pierce, 1914).

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 species.

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