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Athetis Hubner

Type species: dasychira Hubner, Europe.

Synonyms: Proxenus Herrich-Schaffer (type species hospes Freyer, Europe); Elydna Walker (type species transversa Walker, India); Nebrissa Walker (type species bimacula Walker); Curgia Walker (praeocc.; type species nonagrica Walker) syn. n.; Leucocosmia Butler (type species ceres Butler = thoracica Butler) syn. n.; Radinacra Butler (type species palpalis Butler, Japan); Dadica Moore (type species lineosa Moore, India); Radinogoes Butler (type species tenuis Butler, Australia); Floccifera Hampson (type species engida Swinhoe, Burma); Stygiathetis Hampson (type species mus Hampson, India); Strepselydna Warren (type species truncipennis Hampson, India), Hydrillula Tams (type species pallustris Hubner, Europe); Tectorea Berio (type species nitens Saalmueller, Madagascar).

This is a very large genus containing species mainly with dull, pale to medium grey or brown forewings; uniform, with fine transverse fasciae or rows of dots. The stigmata are often conspicuous, sometimes picked out in white. The hindwings are paler than the forewings, often white or nacreous. The male antennae are usually filiform or ciliate.

The definitive feature for the genus is in the male genitalia where the uncus is lost and the tegumen is elongated and expanded into a horseshoe shape. The valve is curved, strap-like, broadening distally usually, with a strong, curved, spine-like harpe in an extremely distal position; it is reminiscent of a similar process in Spodoptera Guenee but appears to be a truly saccular harpe rather than a costal process though this is less clear-cut in some species such as A. bipuncta Snellen. The valve lacks a corona though it may be apically setose, and usually has a slender clavus or furca at the base of the sacculus associated with the juxta. The aedeagus vesica usually bears clusters or rows of strong cornuti, is tubular, but very variable in length.

The genus Leucocosmia Butler is brought into synonymy here as it shares the features of uncus loss and a distal harpe, but has the valves globular, lacking a clavus; the juxta is elongate, large; the tegumen is narrower than in typical Athetis; the aedeagus vesica is very long and bears cornuti over most of its length.

Hampson is also placed as a synonym: the type species and the related Philippines A. plumbescens Wileman & West are more typical of the genus than are Leucocosmia species, but also lack a clavus and have a trifine basal hair pencil that is absent in the other species treated here.

The male eighth sternite bears lateral rods.

In the female genitalia the bursa is rounded, uniformly scobinate, sometimes densely so (Leucocosmia), set on a long ductus. There is sometimes an appendix bursae basal to the bursa, the development of which reflects the length of the aedeagus vesica: it is vestigial in A. reclusa but strongly developed in Leucocosmia.

The larvae (see illustrations in Sugi (1987)) are typically trifine in appearance, smooth, with primary setae only, brownish with mainly longitudinal banding and striation that is somewhat irregular. A8 is humped, squarish, paler posteriorly. Gardner (1946) noted that the first two pairs of abdominal prolegs were reduced, and therefore grouped Athetis (as Elydna) with Chasmina as well as with several quadrifine genera. An additional  feature common to these genera is that the hook of the larger crochets of   the prolegs is bifid.

The larvae are herbaceous feeders and may prefer dried leaves (Sugi).

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