This subfamily was the focus of the study of Lees & Smith (1991),
and consists of about 50 species in seven genera, with a pantropical
distribution that breaks down into an interesting biogeographic pattern.
Host-plant specialisation within the Euphorbiaceae is also of great interest.
The largest uraniids are found in this subfamily and include a lineage
of brightly coloured, day-flying genera. Definitive features are again found in
the tympanal organs: in the female the metathoracic epimeron forms a concave
cover for the tympanal organs (Sick, 1937; Minet, 1983; Lees & Smith, 1991;
Scoble & Minet, in press); the male tympanum is indented at the junction of
its anterior and posterior sections (Minet, 1994). Uraniines also lack a
well-developed mesanepisternum (Scoble & Minet).
As well as the very large genera discussed under Lyssa Hübner in
the next section, the subfamily also includes Urapteroides Moore (See
Hübner) and its tropical Australasian sister-genus Cyphura Warren, and the
Madagascan (and weakly African) Urapteritra Viette. A phylogeny for all
these genera was derived by Lees & Smith (1991) and is reproduced in Fig 3.
The host-plants of the Lyssa group are discussed in the next
section. Urapteroides and Cyphura larvae are recorded from Endospermum,
though there is a record of the former from Suregada, the host of Urapteritra
(Lees & Smith, 1991).
Lees & Smith suggested that the establishment of the present
distribution patterns could have been vicariant with the break-up of
Gondwanaland. The Urapteroides/Cyphura sister-relationship shows
biogeographic parallels with Lyssa/Alcides Hübner, the first genus
widespread, allopatric Indo-Australian, and the second purely Australasian,
though of course Alcides has additional Neotropical and African-Malagasy
relationships (see below and Holloway & Hall (1998)).
Figure 3. Phylogeny of the Uraniinae after Lees & Smith (1991). A subsequent
analysis (D.C. Lees, pers. comm.) with additional genitalic characters
produced this result but also an alternative tree with Alcides placed as
sister-genus to Lyssa.
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