Neostauropus alternus Walker
Stauropus alternus Walker, 1855, List lepid. Insects in Colln
Br. Mus. 5: 1020.
Walker; Kiriakoff, 1968: 133.
Diagnosis. The male has an intense dark brown medial zone, grading away basad and
distad, to the basically bone-coloured forewing and a similar zone on the
anterior half of the hindwing. The female is almost uniform medium greyish
brown, with faint paler and darker markings, its hindwing is slightly darker
than the forewing.
Taxonomic notes. The species exists in a series of races with moderate differences in
genitalia and facies characters throughout its range. The names brunneus Schintlmeister
(Sumatra), niasicus Schintlmeister (Nias), nephodes West
(Philippines) and melastomatis Felder (Amboina) are best applied at
subspecific level to alternus, stats. n. There is a trend in shortening
of the aedeagus and diminution of the interior spine to the valve from west to
east. The short aedeagus illustrated by Schintlmeister (1981: fig 2b) for brunneus
was not shown by a BMNH paratype dissected; it was only slightly shorter
relatively than in typical alternus.
In investigating this species it was found that pale grey S. Indian and
Sri Lankan specimens constitute a good species, with a short aedeagus and no
interior spine to the valve of the male genitalia; the series includes the
holotype () of Stauropus albescens Moore, included as a synonym of alternus
by Kiriakoff (1968), so this taxon is revived, sp. rev.
Characters of adult fades and genitalia, and of the larva, are so
similar to those of Stauropus Germar that the retention of this species
in Neostauropus must be questioned.
Geographical range. N. E. Himalaya, Sundaland, Philippines, Sulawesi, S.
Moluccas; not Taiwan (see Sugi 1979).
Habitat preference. The species has been taken rarely in lowland rain
forest and secondary vegetation in Brunei and Sarawak.
Biology. The larva is of the typical lobster-like Stauropus type and has
been described by Gardner (1943), Sevastopulo (1938- 1947 (17)) and Bell (MS).
The head is much higher than wide. The prolegs are equal, long; the claspers are
carried erect, modified into slender stematopods. The first six abdominal
segments have paired conical protruberances, the seventh having a ventrolateral
tooth and tubercle on each side, and the eighth being expanded laterally,
strongly convex dorsally. The thorax is narrow. The colour is dark brown but
there are white and yellow patches and fine lines. Pupation is in a tough,
shining yellow silken cocoon spun between two leaves.
The larva is polyphagous and a pest of tea, coffee, rambutan and mango;
outbreaks in tea plantations in Sumatra and Java are often checked by a braconid
wasp, Apanteles taprobanae (Kalshoven 1981). Other hosts include Ricinus
(Euphorbiaceae), Careya (Myrtaceae) and numerous Leguminosae such as Cajanus,
Cassia, Ougeinia, Pithecellobium and Wagatea (Gardner 1943;
Sevastopulo 1938-1947; Bell MS; Browne 1968)
to Contents page