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Mythimna Ochsenheimer

Type species: turca Linnaeus.

This genus is treated here in a broad sense to embrace all Gramineae-feeding hadenines with (mostly) uniform to longitudinally striate forewings. These are often divided amongst a number of genera (e.g. by Sugi in Inoue et al. (1982)) but all share two distinctive features: in the male genitalia the valve bases are united by a bubble-like structure (Franclemont, in Calora (1966)); in the female genitalia the ovipositor lobes are strongly sclerotised, with their distal margin distinctively oblique. The second feature is probably associated with oviposition within the leaf axils or between blades of the graminaceous hosts in neat rows (Lorimer, in Heath & Emmett (1979)). The female bursa copulatrix lacks signa.

This broad treatment of the genus follows Lorimer rather than Franclemont (1951), Calora (1966) or Hodges et al. (1983) as it is likely for reasons given below that the major section, the Aletia Hubner group, is paraphyletic, being defined largely on plesiomorphic characters, though containing some obviously monophyletic groups. Until this major group can be revised and subdivided on the basis of well defined apomorphic attributes the broad treatment must be followed. This work is currently being undertaken by Dr. A. Legrain of Belgium whose manuscript notes and correspondence with colleagues at the BMNH also indicate a preference for grouping all the taxa under Mythimna, with progressive recognition of subgenera.

The treatment here will build on the observations of Franclemont, Calora and others, and will hopefully not prejudice that being undertaken by Legrain.

The group as a whole contains numerous pests of graminaceous crops and pastures, including several serious armyworm species.

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