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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #353228

Research Project: Systematics of Moths Significant to Biodiversity, Quarantine, and Control, with a Focus on Invasive Species

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: Aprica: A new genus and life history for the pteridivore "Xanthia patula Druce, 1898

item Goldstein, Paul
item JANZEN, D. - University Of Pennsylvania
item HALLWACHS, W. - University Of Pennsylvania

Submitted to: ZooKeys
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/31/2019
Publication Date: 7/24/2019
Citation: Goldstein, P.Z., Janzen, D.H., Hallwachs, W. 2019. Aprica: A new genus and life history for the pteridivore "Xanthia patula Druce, 1898. ZooKeys. 866:127-145.

Interpretive Summary: A new genus is dscribed to accommodate the conspicuous Central American moth Aprica patula, which has mistakenly been placed in two unrelated genera and subfamilies since its description in 1898. Our understanding of this species was improved by the discovery of its snake-mimicking caterpillars, which feed on ferns. This discovery, along with a careful examination of the adult morphology, suggested a novel subfamily placement. Since it has no obvious close relatives and does not belong in either of the groups in which it was formerly classified, we create a new genus for it, describe the biology and feeding habits of its caterpillar, and re-evaluate some of the features that help identify the adult moths with fern-feeding caterpillars. This work is of interest to entomologists, plant-insect ecologists, and tropical biologists.

Technical Abstract: Aprica gen. n. is described to accommodate the wildcard species Xanthia patula Druce, 1898, subsequently placed in Bagisara (Bagisarinae) and later returned to Xanthia (Noctuindae: Xylenini) by Ferguson (1997). Recent discovery of its larva, which has been recorded from species in 6 families of leptosporangiate ferns, coupled with comparative examination of the adult morphology corroborates its placement with the Eriopinae. This species, which has no obvious close relatives either among the core noctuid pteridivore genera currently recognized in the Eriopinae (e.g., Callopistria), nor among genera more recently discovered to be fern-feeders (e.g. Leucosigma). Features in the genitalia and wing venation of Aprica align with those of Eriopinae and, in addition to similarities in their foodplant profiles, with another ambiguously placed, but still quite distinct Nearctic species Fagitana littera (Guenée, 1852). The taxonomic oddities associated with these two genera are discussed in the context of noctuid pteridivory and its possible origins.