describens Walker comb. rev.
Aegilia describens Walker,
1857, List Specimens lepid. Insects Colln Br. Mus. 13: 1139.
Lophoptera xylinata Walker,
1865, List Specimens lepid. Insects Colln Br. Mus. 33: 920.
Stictoptera anisoptera Snellen,
1880, Tijdschr. Ent. 23: 88.
Stictoptera anca Swinhoe, 1919, Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (9), 4:
Diagnosis. See Aegilia sundascribens sp. n.; the same range of variability is exhibited.
Taxonomic notes. The series in the BMNH attributed to describens proved on closer
examination to be a complex, members of which were distinguished mainly by
characters of male and female genitalia. Most have a more sinuous pale
submarginal line at the forewing tornus than describens, as in the next
species. They all appear to exhibit the same range of variability. The complex
is another good example of a widespread allopatric group, with the exception of
overlap by describens from the west (Fig. 14). Brief descriptions of the
component species are therefore presented below:
Aegilia papuascribens sp. n. In the male genitalia the socii are bilobed,
the valves as in Fig. 177, the irregularly lobed harpe being diagnostic; the
aedeagus vesica has rows of cornuti as in describens but these are
larger, more massive (Fig. 173).The female genitalia are as in Fig. 184 (slide
Holotype Hydrographer Mts., Brit.
N[EW] G[UINEA], 2500ft., April
1918 (Eichhorn Bros.) BM noctuid slide 11237. The species is found widely
in New Guinea and also Ceram (slide 11247).
Aegilia vitiscribens sp. n. The hyaline area of the hindwing is reduced
compared with other members of the complex except hepatica Rebel. The
cornuti of the aedeagus (Fig. 172) are much larger than in describens though
smaller than in papuascribens and less regular in size and arrangement.
The basal processes of the valve costa are relatively slender, incurved, and the
harpe lacks a basal process and is distally longer compared to that of describens
(Fig. 178). The female genitalia are as shown in Fig. 185 (slide 11238). Holotype
: Fiji, Suva, 1955 (H.W. Simmonds), BM noctuid slide 11226. The
species is only known from Fiji and is that referred to as describens by
Figure 14. Distribution of species of Aegilia. 1. A. describens, 2. A.
sundascribens, 3. A. indescribens, 4. A. papuascribens, 5. A.
vitiscribens, 6. A. hepatica, 7. A. caledoscribens, 8. A.
Aegilia caledoscribens sp. n. This is only known from two females (Holloway,
1979), relatively large with extensive hyaline areas to the hindwing, one of the
typical form and one akin to ab. atrimaculata Strand (cf. variability
discussed for sundascribens below). The female genitalia are as in Fig.
186, the bilobed lamella antevaginalis (seen at the base of the ductus) being
diagnostic. Holotype NEW
CALEDONIA, Grand Lac, 250m, Site 2L, 06975/75356 (J.D. Holloway) 9.8.1971,
BM noctuid slide 11244.
Aegilia vanuatscribens sp. n. This is known from a single female of typical
form with genitalia as in Fig. 187; the short zone of sclerotisation of the
ductus bursae and the modification of the 9th segment are diagnostic. Holotype
New Hebrides [VANUATU] Erromango I., Nouankoa R. Camp, 3-6.viii.1971 (G.S. Robinson)
Roy. Soc. Expedition, BM noctuid slide 11243.
Aegilia hepatica Rebel flies in Samoa and has a more fawn tone to the
forewings. The basal process of the valve costa is as in vitiscribens, the
harpe distally prominently bifid (Fig. 179), and the aedeagus vesica spining
(Fig. 180) much as in describens.
Aegilia indescribens Prout (Sulawesi, Ceram, New Guinea) has a
different range of forewing pattern forms, a slender basal process to the valve
costa, a basal, slender, ampullate harpe, no socii to the tegumen and, in the
aedeagus vesica, a single moderate slender cornutus opposing a row of three that
increase in size distad. The species is probably sister to the describens group.
It has recently been noted from the Solomons (not shown in Fig. 14).
Geographical range (describens). Oriental tropics to New Guinea, the Bismarck
Is. and Queensland; also on Christmas I. in the Indian Ocean.
Habitat preference. The only Bornean specimens seen were two from Karaman
I., south west of Labuan, and two females from dry heath forest at Telisai,
Brunei. The species may well be restricted to drier, open habitats in the
Biology. The life history in India has been described by Bell (MS). The larva
differs from those of Stictoptera in that it is not so swollen from the
mesothoracic segment to the second abdominal segment into a distinctive 'berry'
shape. The colour is medium grass-green with a distinct, 'pulsating' dark
greenish dorsal line, and a brownish, faint, lateral line extending to the
dorsolateral area and broken into chevrons on each segment with the apex of each
chevron pointing dorsad to give a zig-zag effect; there are also indications of
distinct, straight, but interrupted and often faint, brown spiracular and
supraspiracular bands. The spiracles are orange divided by black. At maturity
the larva is approximately 33mm long and 5mm broad.
The habits are as in Stictoptera cucullioides, the larva feeding
on young leaves and pupating in the soil in a roomy earth and silk cocoon. The
pupal stage lasts about two weeks.
The Indian host-plant is Mesua ferrea (Guttiferae).
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