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Metanastria Hubner

Type species: hyrtaca Cramer
This genus and the genus Lebeda Walker were revised by Lajonquière (1979). Two Cramer species are involved in his analysis, one, hyrtaca, being the type species of Metanastria. Lajonquière appended seven other names in synonymy to hyrtaca. Examination of material in the BMNH has indicated that a small complex is involved, ranging through the region from India to China, but extending to Peninsular Malaysia with three species, one of which is shared with Borneo, and two of which extend to Sumatra and Java. There is a species in the Philippines.

The original illustration of hyrtaca (type probably lost) is indicative of synonymy with repanda Walker; lusca Fabricius and laricis Hubner are best retained also as synonyms of hyrtaca as the types are probably lost.

The original illustration of aconyta Cramer, based on a female, suggests the species is a Metanastria, having the reddish tone typical of many females of that genus and  alien to the other taxa included as synonyms by Lajonquière; the specimen also lacks the forewing tornal spots typical of those other synonyms. It is probable that aconyta is a senior synonym of recta Walker and plagiata Walker, subordinated to hyrtaca by Lajonquière. Horsfield & Moore (1879) subordinated plagiata and brahma Lefebvre to buddha Lefebvre so these three names are probably synonyms of aconyta. The type of quadricincta Fabricius (Zoological Museum, Copenhagen) is a female that is also referable to aconyta (colour photograph examined).

The rest of the synonyms of aconyta sensu Lajonquière refers to an Indian Lebeda species for which trifascia Walker ( = substrigosa Walker, opponens Walker, subparallela Walker, bhira Moore, nanda Moore) is the oldest name.

The genus can be defined as follows:

The wing venation is typical of the lasiocampine group. There is considerable sexual dimorphism. The male forewings are narrower and more apically produced than in the female, and the insect itself is smaller. The male antennae are strongly bipectinate, most broadly so over the basal third; in the female the pectinations are much narrower.

The forewings of both sexes have two postmedial and two antemedial pale fasciae on a reddish brown ground, this being paler between each pair in the female. The fasciae are much narrower, closer together and more basal in the males. The medial area is of the ground colour in the female with only a weak paler discal spot, but in the males the distal spot is prominently pale within a very dark brown area that extends between the inner fasciae, often to the costa, but never beyond vein CuA2 posteriorly. There is a row of darker dashes crossing the spaces submarginally, with pale colour grading away basad.

The male genitalia have the dorsal portion much as in Bhima and the following genera, but the cubile arms are slender, splayed, apically outcurved. The aedeagus resembles that of the next genus in having a flattened, subapical, ventral spur, spined round the distal margin, the margin often grooved like a pulley-wheel, with spines along each rim. The male genitalia do not provide strong characters for specific diagnosis.

The Indian species can be distinguished on facies characters as follows:
M. hyrtaca: male forewing relatively deep, dark brown medial patch narrow, often broken anteriorly; submarginal dashes strong, irregular, with paler zones basad prominent.

M. aconyta: male forewing with medial patch large, the discal dot almost white; the submarginal dashes are moderate and regular, almost in a straight line.

Lajonquière considered hyrtaca to be represented in Sumatra and Java; a male and female from Peninsular Malaysia in the BMNH have the forewing relatively deep as in that species, but the male has the dark medial area very much broader than in Indian material. There are two undescribed species: a small hyrtaca-like taxon from Luzon with distinctive genitalia; an aconyta-like species from Penang where the male has the hindwing triangular, the dorsal zone vested with androconia.  M. gemella Lajonquière, allied to aconyta, is a Sundanian species found in Borneo.

Gardner (1941) described the larva of M. hyrtaca. There are two lateral protruberances on each side of the prothorax, the lower being longer. The protruberances on the rest of the body are strong, all with long, diffuse setae mixed with a few pale clavate setae. The mesothorax has a small, transverse, velvety black patch dorsally and the metathorax has a dorsal, crimson, transverse cleft before the last annulus, with the skin velvety black just anteriorly. The body is dull greyish brown, two dark lines forming a chain of oval marks along the dorsum.  There are sparse black secondary setae and fine black hairs also on the distinct blue verrucae (2 dorsal pairs and one above each spiracle) on most abdominal segments. The undersurface is reddish, black along the middle.

The species has a wide range of diet, defoliating many tree species (Sevastopulo, 1938, 1940; Browne, 1968; Pholboon, 1965; Bell, MS; unpublished CIE records):


















Acacia, Albizia




Psidium, Eugenia, Eucalyptus




Mimusops, Manilkara (Achras), Madhuca (Bassia)






Gmelina, Nyctanthes

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