Brahmaeidae are a small but spectacular family found in the African and Oriental
tropics, and extending north into the warmer Palaearctic. At present only four
genera can be recognised: Brahmaea Walker, the major Oriental and Palaearctic
genus; the European Acanthobrahmaea Sauter; Calliprogonos Mell, a monotypic
Chinese genus; Dactyloceras Mell, an Afrotropical genus of about eight species.
Sauter (1986) placed the last two genera in a separate subfamily,
Dactyloceratinae, but this division is probably superfluous in such a small
The hindwing venation was illustrated by Holloway (1986): the cell is short,
broad with the M stem present; R1 is present as a short cross-vein between Rs
and Sc. In the forewing all radial veins are present except in Calliprogonos
where they are reduced; R1 is weak in Dactyloceras; R3-5 arise posteriorly from
Rs, and there is an interesting dichotomous arrangement of radial veins in most
Brahmaea species (see below); the M stem may also be present in the cell.
The wing pattern has features common to all species except the single Calliprogonos. On the forewing there is a medial zone flanked by two fields of
multiple, parallel, fine, dark fasciae; on the hindwing only the submarginal
field is present. The margins of both wings have pale semicircles across each
vein but these are almost filled with black where they cross the two or three
most anterior veins of the forewings.
The male antennae are broadly bipectinate, with a weak third pectination in
Brahmaea and Acanthobrahmaea (Sauter, 1986).
In the male genitalia of Brahmaea the uncus is large, triangular, the gnathus a
large, narrow loop, extensively scobinate over the distal part. The valves are
approximately oval, slightly sclerotised or lobed in the distal saccular region.
The aedeagus vesica is globular, usually unadorned in the South-east Asian
The family is currently being studied by W. Nassig.
The eggs are round, flattened, like the upper third to half of a sphere, with
the micropyle at the top (W.A. Nassig, pers. comm.).
The larvae of the Brahmaea group are usually brightly coloured or black,
the segments strongly demarcated. There are long paired filaments on T2, T3 and
A9, and a central one on A8. These are lost in the final instar, those on the
thorax being replaced by 'eyespots'. More details may be found in Gardiner
(1982) and Carter & Hargreaves (1986).
In Dactyloceras segments T1 to A7 and segment A9 have paired dorsal processes,
with a single long horn on A8. Those on the thorax and A8 are spinose; there is
also a complete row of subspiracular processes on each side (Schultze, 1931).
Pupation is in the soil; there is no cocoon (Gardiner, 1982).
Barlow (1982) suggested that the larva of B. hearseyi was polyphagous, but
records located for B. wallichii (Sevastopulo, 1940; Miyata, 1983; Gardiner,
1982) are mainly from the family Oleaceae: Fraxinus, Ligustrum, Osmanthus, but
with some records from Sambucus (Sambucaceae). Carter & Hargreaves give
Fraxinus and Ligustrum for Acanthobrahmaea europaea Hartig. Gardiner records
Phillyrea and Syringa, also Oleaceae, for various Brahmaea.
The only record for Dactyloceras (Schultze, 1931) is from Ceropegia in the
Asclepiadaceae, a family in the same Order as the Oleaceae.
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