SUBFAMILY NOCTUINAE
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Xestia Hubner

Type species: ochreago Hubner, Palaearctic.

Synonyms and subgenera: Agrotimorpha Barnes & Benjamin (type species staudingeri Moeschler, Canada); Agrotiphila Grote (type species colorado Smith, U.S.A.); Amathes Hubner (type species baja Denis & Schiffermuller, Palaearctic); Anepilecta Warren (type species accipiter Felder & Rogenhofer, India); Anomogyna Staudinger, 1871, type species laetabilis Zetterstedt, Scandinavia); Archanarta Barnes & Benjamin (type species quieta Hubner, Europe); Barrovia Barnes & McDunnough (type species fasciata Skinner, Alaska); Epipsiliamorpha Barnes & Benjamin (type species alaskae Grote, Alaska); Estimata Kozhantschikov (type species herrichschaefferi Alpheraky, Mongolia); Hiptelia Guenee (type species ochreago) ; Hypoestia Hampson (type species dilatata Butler, Japan); Knappia Nye (type species poppiusi Herz = quieta Hubner; replacement name for Lena Herz, praeocc.); Lytaea Stephens (type species umbrosa Hubner, = sexstrigata Haworth, Europe); Megasema Hubner (type species triangulum Hufnagel, Palaearctic); Pachnobia Guenee (type species tecta Hubner, Europe); Perinaenia Butler (type species lignosa Butler = accipiter); Perissandria Warren (type species argillacea Alpheraky, China, Tibet); Platagrotis Smith (type species speciosa Hubner, Europe); Pteroscia Morrison (type species atrata Morrison, U.S.A.); Raddea Alpheraky (type species digna Alpheraky, China); Schoyenia Aurivillius (type species arctica Aurivillius, Novaya Zemlya I.); Segetia Stephens (type species xanthographa Denis & Schiffermuller, Palaearctic); Spinipalpa Alpheraky (type species maculata Alpheraky, China).

As can be seen from the extensive generic synonymy, this is a large and complex genus, most diverse in Holarctic regions. It is perhaps best defined on male genitalia characters, particularly those of the valve: the ventral margin has a narrow spur (sometimes two) at two-thirds; the harpe is reflexed towards the costal margin, often angled apically. The peniculus of the tegumen is strongly lobed. The aedeagus usually has apical spining; the vesica is short, with basal lobes, often with associated scobinate patches.

In the female genitalia the bursa and appendix bursae are usually  globular, the former larger than the latter and with up to four narrow bands of scobination (the signa).

A complex of species allied to the Palaearctic X. c-nigrum Linnaeus occurs on the mountains of Sundaland and Wallacea as discussed in the specific account below. Four montane New Guinea species (slide 12963, 14083 and one undissected but with valve visible) may form a monophyletic group defined by narrowing of the valve apex and loss of the corona; three have two processes from the ventral edge of the valve. The aedeagus vesica in these taxa lacks basal lobes and has a band of scobination extending in from the aedeagus apex.

Most species have wide range of herbaceous plants in their larval diet.

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