Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz



Adults diurnal; relatively short-bodied (males), or medium-bodied to long-bodied (females); medium built (wingspan more than 8 and less than 15 times the thoracic width), or heavily built (wingspan less than 8 times the thoracic width); wings in repose spread flat with their lower surfaces more or less appressed to the substrate.

Antennae very short; extending to about 0.23–0.29 times the length of the forewing. Antennae of males bipectinate. Eyes glabrous. Ocelli absent. Chaetosemata absent. Maxillary palps much reduced, or absent. Labial palps well developed (but short); 3 segmented. Proboscis absent.

Wingspan 55–85 mm; 8.5–9.6 times the thoracic width. Forewings broad; 1.6–1.75 times as long as wide. The outer and hind margins angled at about 105 degrees. The outer margin slightly convexly curved to more or less straight, or concavely curved (slightly); forewings apically blunt; forewings eye-spotted above. Hindwings broadly rounded; quite markedly narrower than the forewings to similar in breadth to the forewings; with a rounded apex; not tailed; the upper surfaces conspicuously patterned above (similar to the forewings, with a large eye-spot and vavy lines and bands); with a discal spot and with transverse lines (the discal mark represented by the ‘eye’); without a frenulum.

Neuration of forewings and hindwings dissimilar. Forewings 10 veined (vein 11 absent); with 1 anal vein. The anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only. Forewings lacking a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the forewings furcate proximally. Discal cell of the forewings without a tubular media (M) vein. Hindwings 8 veined; with 1 anal vein. The anal veins of the hindwings representing 1b only. Hindwings exhibiting vein 1a; lacking a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the hindwings simple. 5 veins arising from the hindwing cell (vein 5 missing?). The cell-derived hindwing veins 6+7 proximally joined (assuming 5 is missing). Vein 8 of the hindwings completely independent of the cell; not approximating to vein 7.

Adults having all 6 legs fully developed and operational for walking. Fore-legs of female operational for walking. Fore-legs with a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae without spurs, or 2-spurred (short); hairy.

Tympanal organs absent.

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Eggs markedly flattened to not flattened; smooth or minutely pitted. Larval prolegs 10. Larvae conspicuously, densely long-hairy (with hairy tubercles). On divers dicot trees shrubs and herbs, perhaps most commonly on Erica and Calluna on heaths and moorland, and Filipendula ulmara in fens and marshes.

Pupae concealed (in a stout cocoon); above the ground. Empty pupae not becoming protruded.

British representation. Genera 1; 1 species. Saturnia pavonia (Emperor)).

Classification. Macromoths. Suborder Ditrysia. Superfamily Bombycoidea.

Illustrations. • Endromidae, Saturniidae: Newman. • Saturnia pavonia (Emperor: male, female, larva, pupa, cocoon): Kirby 30. • Larvae, cocoon, pupa: Saturnia pavonia (Duponchel, 1849). • Saturnia pyri: Hubner III, 56. • Larva, cocoon, pupa: Saturnia pyri (Duponchel, 1849). • Saturnia pavonia: neuration.

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Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera. Version: 8th June 2016.’.