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Lymantria Hübner

Type species: monacha Linnaeus, Europe.

Synonyms: Barhona Moore (type species carneola Moore = lepcha Moore); Enome Walker (type species ampla Walker, Sri Lanka, India); Erasta Gistl (type species monacha); Hypogymna Billberg (type species dispar Linnaeus, Europe); Nagunda Moore (type species semicincta Walker, India); Pegella Walker (type species curvifera Walker, Philippines); Porthetria Hübner (type species dispar); Psilura Stephens (type species monacha); Sericaria Berthold (type species dispar).

Apart from general similarities in facies, the feature that most clearly defines this large and varied genus is the extensile nature of the female ovipositor that, with the eighth segment structures, is as long or longer than the ductus and bursa combined. The extended zone is mainly within the membrane between the ovipositor lobes and the eighth segment.

The facies of the forewing consists of variations on a theme of a series of zig-zag fasciae, lunulate or arcuate in the spaces, distally acute on the veins. There is a distinctive V-shaped mark in the discal position at the end of the forewing cell, with a dot basal to it in the 'orbicular stigma' position just distal to the antemedial. In females the fasciae are often weaker or fused into more solid bands. In both sexes the forewing can be suffused with a more general dark irroration, obscuring the fasciae. The hindwing is usually uniform, though often with a diffusely darker border.

The male abdomen has tymbals. The genitalia in typical species (including the Bornean species with white males) have the uncus triangular, tapering, without a gnathus. The saccus is of similar development. The valves are undivided, with the costal apex acutely produced, and the saccular margin rounded to obtusely angled. Other species groups in Borneo can be defined on male genitalic characters as follows:

The beatrix Stoll group (beatrix Stoll, capnodes Collenette), with distinct dorsal and ventral arms to the valves;

The strigata Aurivillius group (sexspinae Holloway to kobesi Schintlmeister), with the valves divided distally into two spine-like processes, sometimes equal in length but often unequal;

The kinta Collenette group (kinta and species following), with elongate, narrow genitalia, each valve a single, slender spine.

There are also two Bornean species that fall within none of these groups: L. panthera van Eecke, with a curled apical spine to the valve, socii ventral to the uncus, a long, narrow saccus, and a very long, slender aedeagus; minora van Eecke, with valves as in the beatrix group, but with the addition of lateral, anterior digitate processes from the tegumen. L. minora is related to L. mathura Moore and L. viola Swinhoe from India, L. grandis Walker from Sri Lanka, and possibly to species in New Guinea such as L. flavoneura Joicey. L. panthera is also related to a New Guinea species, L. ekeikei Bethune-Baker.

The female genitalia have already been mentioned. The signum, when it occurs (e.g. in the kinta group), is bicornute, lateral in the bursa.

Larvae of several Indian species were described and keyed by Gardner (1938); those of the European species were described by Carter (1984). The supraspiracular and postspiracular abdominal verrucae are both large and contiguous as in Leucomini (as distinct from disparate and separate as in Orgyiini and Nygmiini, or both small and well separate as in Arctornithini). However, the larvae resemble the Arctornithini in having the subspiracular and supraventral abdominal verrucae close, and approaching a horizontal arrangement, a feature used by Gardner in his generic key. The setae on the dorsal verrucae are usually needle-like or spine-like.

The genus is diverse in the Indo-Australian tropics and eastern Asian subtropics, extending more weakly into temperate latitudes. A few species have been introduced to N. America, most notoriously the gipsy moth, L. dispar Linnaeus. There is moderate diversity also in Africa. The Palaearctic and mainland Oriental species are currently being revised by D.C. Ferguson.

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