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Allata Walker

Allata argentifera Walker
Allata argentifera Walker, 1862, J. Linn. Soc. Lond. Zool. 6: 140; 
    Kiriakoff 1968: 247; Holloway 1976: 58, fig. 377.

Allata argentifera

Allata argentifera

The rather elongate silver markings on the forewing distinguish males of this species and A. benderi from the two Ginshachia species. A. argentifera has a paler, more variegated costal zone to the forewing than does A. benderi. The females are very different from the males, lacking the silver markings and having broad cream bands along the forewing costa, slightly more mottled in argentifera, though females of the two species are best distinguished by examination of the genitalia. The sclerotised plates in the lamella prevaginalis in benderi are larger and the foliate process within the external pouch on the ninth sternite is larger, more finely serrate, less narrow. In the male genitalia the costal and saccular spines on the valve are equal on each valve, both longer on the right, in argentifera; in benderi the saccular spine is much smaller than the costal one and there is only slight asymmetry.

Taxonomic notes. Kiriakoff (1968: 244, final para) did not examine the holotype of argentifera and cited N. India as the type locality instead of Sarawak; the latter is correct.

The genus Allata was examined by Dierl (1976) who recognised that there were more species than Kiriakoff (1968) had suspected. A reexamination with dissection of material from a wide range of localities suggests the following. There are two groups of species: the Allata group with both costal and saccular processes of the valves of the male genitalia developed into spines; the Celeia Walker group (to which the name Neophyta Bryk must fall as junior synonym, syn. n) where only the sacculus bears a spine, the costa bearing a ventrally directed lobe or flap. The aedeagus in the Celeia group is coarsely scobinate subapically and the two groups are also distinguished by differences in shape of the uncus and gnathal processes (illustrated by Kiriakoff (1968)).

Both Bornean species belong to the Allata group, which is completed by A. affinis Rothschild (= novaeguineae Kiriakoff, 1967: 62) from New Guinea and an undescribed species (BM notodontid slides 538, 539) from southern India.

The Celeia group contains the Himalayan and possibly S. Chinese species sikkima Moore (type species of Neophyta Bryk) based on a male type (the Himalayan taxon Pheosia costalis Moore is based on females and may be a synonym of sikkima rather than argentifera as placed by Kiriakoff (1968: 247)) and also recorded from Sumatra and Java by Bender & Dierl (1977), the S. Indian and Sri Lankan species plusiata Walker (type species of Celeia), and an eastern complex with variation in genitalia that is best referred at present to the Australian (Queensland) taxon indistincta Rothschild. Records of the indistincta complex are from Java, Sulawesi and New Guinea.

Geographical range. Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi.

Habitat preference. The species is infrequent in lowland rain forest; several were taken in lowland rain forest on the limestone of G. Api in the Mulu survey, one in lower montane forest on each of G. Mulu and G. Api, and singletons at about 1600 m on G. Kinabalu and Bukit Retak (upper montane forest).

Biology. Bell reared a series of Allata specimens from S. India that contains both plusiata Walker and the undescribed species in the Allata group. Gardner (1943) described the larva of Allata and also (1946) gave a key for larval differences between Allata and related genera such as Rosama Walker (plusioides Moore) and Eguria Matsumura (auritracta Moore). Gardner gave as hosts Desmodium (Rosama), Mucuna (Eguria) and Ougeinia (Allata) and Bell referred to Pongamia and Derris for Allata, all genera in the Leguminosae.

The Allata larva is cylindrical, but tapering over the thoracic segments. The eighth abdominal segment is swollen into a dome-shaped tumidity, somewhat broader than long, near the hind-margin of the segment. The head is roundish to elliptical, light, dull yellow, shining, pitted with groups of dark pits. The body is smooth, shiny to greasy looking, light greenish brown with fine white speckles; there is an obscure, fine, black dorsal line, a transverse black band posteriorly on the seventh abdominal segment, the tumidity of the eighth tinged with orange and marked with black. The ventral surface is greener than the dorsal. The spiracles are yellow with black rims. A second variant was yellowish brown, tinged pinkish and a third was deep purple-brown with a faint, yellow, double dorsal line and yellowish marbling elsewhere. A fourth variant, for which a voucher specimen has been located and identified as plusiata, was broadly grey-green along the segment margins, light violet-brown elsewhere and dotted sparsely with white; there was a faint dark green dorsal line that became distinct and brown over the tumidity of the eighth segment.

The larva is sluggish, lying on the underside of a leaf, feeding down one side at a time whilst sitting on the midrib. It pupates in a flattish ovoid cocoon of white silk spun between two leaves.

The egg was described by Bell (MS) as like a bowl full of pudding, i.e. with a rimmed, convex top, honey yellow in colour, 1.25 mm by 1.4 mm

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