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Achaea janata Linnaeus
Geometra janata Linnaeus, 1758, Syst. Nat., (Edn 10) 1: 527.
Noctua melicerta Drury, [1773] 1770, Illust. nat. Hist. exot. Insects, 1: 46.
Noctua tigrina Fabricius, 1781, Species Insectorum, 2: 218.
Noctua cyathina Macleay, 1826, Cat. Insects Coll. King pp 138-469.
Catocala traversii Fereday, 1877, Trans. N. Z. Inst., 9: 457.
Ophiusa ekeikei Bethune-Baker, 1906, Novit. zool., 13: 256.
Achaea janata Linnaeus; Kobes, 1985: 39.

Achaea janata

. The species is smaller than serva and allies and has a broader white medial band on the hindwing. On the underside, the forewing has a distinct pale band medially, flanked by dark areas, and the hindwing has a prominent dark subtornal patch that is only weakly developed in serva.

Geographical range. Indo-Australian tropics and subtropics, extending south to New Zealand (regular immigrant) and east through the Pacific archipelagoes to Easter I.

Habitat preference. All records have been from disturbed or open habitats in the lowlands.

Biology. The life history and highly variable larva has been described and sometimes illustrated by many authors: Moore (1884-1887), Sevastopulo (1939, 1946), Gardner (1941, 1947), Comstock (1966), Holloway (1977), Murphy (1990), Kuroko & Lewvanich (1993), Tanahara & Tanahara (2000) and Bell (MS). There may be some regional variation, so the descriptions summarised below span the range of the species and draw particularly on illustrated accounts.

In Okinawa, Tanahara & Tanahara (2000) illustrated a larva with a black head that has pale cream patches on each side; such patches also occur on the exterior of the prolegs. These markings appear to be common to all forms. The body is dorsally dark brown with a paler band with even paler edges just below this dorsal zone that contains black ocellate spots at the centre of each segment. Below that there is a dark band that is bounded dorsally by a red line that runs just below the spiracles, and ventrally by a pale yellow line. Ventrally the larva appears to be fawn.

Moore (1884-1887) illustrated and Bell (MS) described several variants from India, one of which appears similar to the Okinawa one, and another similar to that from Singapore described below, but there is also a form that is light yellow, marbled and striped with grey and brown. All these forms have a velvety black saddle-like spot at the front of A2, on the membrane between it and A1. This is exposed when the body is humped at that point; in the yellowish form this black spot incorporates a white and orange spot anteriorly and a yellow one posteriorly, and there are further black spots dorsally and laterally on each segment. The tubercles on A8 are bright orange.

Kuroko & Lewvanich illustrated pale grey and blackish brown forms in Thailand. The former is stippled with black that becomes more intense down to the level of the legs where it terminates on a thin black line with a cream one below; there is a broken, dull orange line through the spiracles. The latter has the ocellate marks within a more brownish stripe, and the orange spiracular line is stippled with black.

The larva from Singapore mangrove illustrated by Murphy (1990) is a much more uniform, though slightly variegated, medium reddish brown larva, the colour being made up of dense, fine, dark stippling on a paler ground.

Comstock (1966) illustrated a larva very similar to that from Singapore as the typical form in American Samoa, describing it as pale pinkish brown, with some tendency for the stipple to form longitudinal banding. There is also a melanic form where the body is black with a series of irregular, broken, longitudinal, orange-red and yellow lines. The ventral surface is orange with a yellow marginal line. In both forms the tubercles on A8 are bright red.

The young larva is ivory white on hatching (Bell, MS), and moves like a leech.

At rest it usually has the body slightly looped from T3 to A3, lying along a twig, stalk or leaf midrib. The pupa is formed in a fairly roomy, ovoid cell of leaves drawn together with silk. The pupa has a bluish white bloom.

Common (1990) and Robinson
et al. (2001) have listed a diverse array of host plants from about thirty families, with the Euphorbiaceae (especially Ricinus; Common, 1990) and Leguminosae being particularly favoured: Araucariaceae (Agathis, Araucaria); Combretaceae (Anogeissus, Terminalia); Convolvulaceae (Ipomoea); Cruciferae (Brassica, Raphanus); Cucurbitaceae (Cucurbita); Cupressaceae (Cupressus); Dipterocarpaceae (Shorea); Euphorbiaceae (Acalypha, Aleurites, Andrachne, Bischofia, Chamaesyce, Codiaeum, Croton, Euphorbia, Excoecaria, Flueggea, Jatropha, Manihot, Pedilanthus, Phyllanthus, Ricinus, Sapium); Gramineae (Saccharum); Lecythidaceae (Planchonia); Leguminosae (Acacia, Albizia, Arachis, Bauhinia, Dalbergia, Desmanthus, Glycine, Leucaena, Mimosa, Paraserianthes, Phaseolus, Prosopis, Vigna, Zylia); Loganiaceae (Strychnos); Lythraceae (Lagerstroemia, Punica); Malvaceae (Abutilon, Gossypium); Moraceae (Ficus); Myrtaceae (Eucalyptus, Psidium); Palmae (Cocos); Polygonaceae (Emex); Polypodiaceae (Polypodium); Proteaceae (Macadamia); Rhamnaceae (Ziziphus); Rosaceae (Rosa); Sapindaceae (Litchi, Nephelium, Schleichera); Sapotaceae (Madhuca, Mimusops, Palaquium); Solanaceae (Capsicum); Sterculiaceae (Sterculia, Theobroma); Tiliaceae (Grewia); Zygophyllaceae (Tribulus).

The adult pierces fruit (Bänziger, 1982; Kuroko & Lewvanich, 1993).

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