SUBFAMILY NOCTUINAE
View Image Gallery of Subfamily Noctuinae

Kitching (1984) listed no definitive apomorphies for the Noctuinae, reviewing the literature on both adults and immatures. The group has traditionally been recognised by possession of spined hind tibiae. The lability of tibial spining has been demonstrated by Matthews (1988) in his study of the Heliothinae. The only feature with any potential for defining the group is in the resting posture: the wings of each side are held in the same plane rather than at an angle to each other forming a roof (Holloway, Bradley & Carter, 1987: 165). The trifine hair pencil is usually absent (Birch, 1979).

The genera currently placed in the subfamily include many cutworm crop pests, e.g. in  Agrotis Ochsenheimer and Euxoa Hubner. The larvae tend to be polyphagous on herbaceous angiosperms. This association with herbaceous plants is correlated with the biogeography of the group. Most genera  are Holarctic, often with Himalayan centres of diversity, but some extend through the mountains of the tropics to south-temperate localities. Thus in Borneo the group is predominantly montane.

Apart from the genera discussed below, there is only one other genus of noctuinae known from the Indo-Australian tropical mountains. Axylia Hubner includes two species very similar in external appearance to the Palaearctic type species, putris Linnaeus, namely triseriata Moore (India, Java), the closely related or conspecific mundipennis Warren (Luzon) and a further taxon (slide 12957) in Sulawesi.

An extensive sample of the western Chinese fauna was monographed by Boursin (1954-1963).

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