View Image Gallery of Subfamily Agaristinae

The Agaristinae have often been treated as a full family, e.g. by Kiriakoff (1977), though with relationships to the Noctuidae. Kiriakoff defined the group on the presence of a more or less well developed paired vesicle (bulla abdominalis) at the base of the abdomen (a scobinate blister dorsal and posterior to the counter-tympanal hood?), associated with the counter-tympanal structures. Kiriakoff suggested the Agaristidae were the apomorphic sister-group of the plesiomorphic Noctuidae, though did not address himself to the question of the monophyly of the Noctuidae implicit in such an arrangement.

Kitching (1984: 224) placed the agaristines as a subfamily of the Noctuidae associated with the trifine subfamilies. He described them
(p. 226) as a highly apomorphic group: counter-tympanum several times the size of the tympanal membrane; hood very reduced/absent; adults active by day, generally highly coloured, usually with clubbed antennae; larvae also brightly coloured, feeding largely on Vitaceae and Onagraceae'. The preference for Vitaceae was also noted by Sugi (1987). The presence of trifine hair pencils in the male abdomen supports Kitching's placement.

The subfamily is primarily pantropical. As stated by Kitching, the taxa are mainly brightly coloured and day-flying, though some, particularly the genus Sarbanissa Walker, come to light at night.

In the hindwing vein M2 is usually obsolescent as in other trifine sub-families.

Kiriakoff made a particular study of the male genitalia, and subdivided the Indo-Australian genera on the basis of genitalic features. The only genus in his Group I, Episteme Hubner, is represented in Borneo. The rest are all from the second group and, except for Crinocula Jordan (Subgroup 4) and Sarbanissa (Subgroup 13), are all in Subgroup 3, having an elongated tegumen and uncus and a distally expanded, often triangular valve.

In most genera the harpe is strong, simple, as in some Amphipyrinae and Pantheinae. In a number a corona is present. The aedeagus is short but often produced apically into a spur or tapering process; the ductus ejaculatorius is inserted more or less centrally, and the aedeagus is usually expanded at that point. The scaphium is often sclerotised dorsally, and is long in Subgroup 3. Lateral rods are present on sternite 8 in many genera.

The female genitalia, not studied by Kiriakoff, are characterised by rather narrow, triangular ovipositor lobes with long apodemes; the eighth segment is a simple, sclerotised ring, again with long apodemes; the ductus bursae is very long, extremely narrow and unsclerotised, though there may be a short basal section that is broader and sclerotised; the bursa is small, unadorned or very finely scobinate. The condition of the ductus and bursa may provide another autapomorphy for the subfamily.

The larvae have all prolegs present. Secondary setae do not occur. The pattern usually consists of irregular white reticulations on black, with the white areas being suffused with orange or yellow in rings or patches (see Sugi, 1987).

The Sumatran Agaristinae were featured by Kobes (1965). Ten species are shared with Borneo.

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