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Aiteta Walker

Type species: musculina Walker, Philippines.

Brada Walker (type species truncata Walker, Sri Lanka); Capotena Walker (type species apriformi Walker, Sri Lanka); Chaladra Walker (type species cucullioides Walker = musculina, Phanaca Walker (type species damnipennis Walker, Sri Lanka); Pseudelydna Hampson (type species rufoflava Walker, India) syn. n.; Sphingiforma Bethune-Baker (type species pratti Bethune-Baker, New Guinea) syn. n.; Thyrsoscelis Meyrick (type species iridias Meyrick, New Guinea).

above synonymy brings together genera that share a number of unique features within the tribe: the tymbal structures are associated with complex accessory structures posterior to them that include a pair of hair-pencils; the male eighth tergite is basally four-lobed, angles at the corners joining the usual broad apodemes; the basal margin of the eighth sternite is slightly produced rather than excavate; the signum of the female is atypical, more an area of corrugation (see below); the whole insect has a rather sphingid-like build, with long, narrow forewings, much smaller hindwings and an abdomen that extends well beyond them. The synonymy also brings together taxa where the larvae are recorded feeding on Terminalia (Combretaceae). The only other species currently placed in Pseudelydna, xanthia Hampson, is transferred to Xenochroa. Typical Pseudelydna has more complex basal abdominal structures than the rest of the genus, and lacks the trident-like hindwing venation. It may be sister-group to the rest of the genus, but African taxa have not been investigated. Many species have small lateral coremata basally on each abdominal segment in the male.

The male genitalia have the uncus single and the scaphium distally broad, rhomboidal, but with narrow lateral bands. The tegumen is relatively short, but broadened over its whole length on each side. The valve in more typical Aiteta (not Pseudelydna) is elongate, the larger species with a curved process from the sacculus to a basally directed lobe on the costal margin. The aedeagus vesica has diverticula with terminal cornuti.

In the female, the ductus of the type species is short and broad, the bursa large, elongate, the appendix bursae (or ductus seminalis) arising from the distal end. The signum is represented by an extensive area of slightly corrugated sclerotisation.

Bell (MS) described the biology of an Indian species, probably truncata. The larva has the thoracic segments swollen, berry-like, and A8 bears a pair of conical tubercles. Primary setae only are present. The surface of the body is dull, the “berry” greenish, the abdomen light pinkish brown with subdorsal, dorsolateral, lateral and subspiracular lines of white dots on indistinct dotted brown bands from end to end. Segments A1 to A3 are flushed rufous, and A4 to A6 have the dorsum lighter.

The cocoon is a flattened ovoid, with an anterior peak or horn, and the surface generally covered with little silken horns. The pupa is a parallel-sided cylinder, anally hemispherical, smooth, with no cremaster. The cocoon is formed in diverse situations.

The larvae live on young leaves initially, resting on the uppersides and on twigs and branches. The berry can swell and contract: the larva spits when handled. Bell (MS) also described the biology of the type species of Pseudelydna. The larva is very similar in shape and colour to that of Aiteta truncata, but is more richly coloured, and the space between the dorsolateral and subdorsal white lines is jet black on segments A1-4, with the segment margin between A1 and A2 pure white. Pupation is in a cocoon similar to that of A. truncata but the anterior dorsal peak is slight and there are no rugosities on the rest of its surface. Mathur (1942) stated the cocoon was formed in bark crevices.

The genus ranges throughout the Indo-Australian tropics to as far east as the Solomons.

The host-plants are species of Terminalia (Combretaceae). This genus is almost exclusively recorded for Aiteta; see also Gardner (1941, 1946b), Mathur (1942), Browne, 1968, Bigger (1988), Robinson et al. (2001), unpublished IIE records, individual species below. One exception, A. deminutiva Warren on Octomeles (Datiscaceae), is not a true Aiteta (see below), but Yunus & Ho (1980) recorded Cinnamomum (Lauraceae) for A. apriformis.

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