Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Lepidoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults diurnal; relatively very long-bodied; medium built (wingspan more than 8 and less than 15 times the thoracic width) to heavily built (wingspan less than 8 times the thoracic width). The abdomen plain. Adults wings in repose packed with the forewings directed backwards to cover hindwings and abdomen.

Antennae of medium length to long; extending to about 0.58–0.8 times the length of the forewing; clubbed to not clubbed. The club gradual. Antennae of males bipectinate (in Procris), or simple. Ocelli present (usually), or absent. Chaetosemata absent. Maxillary palps much reduced; 1 segmented, or 2 segmented. Labial palps ascending (short). Proboscis fully developed; not scaly.

Wingspan 22–39 mm; 6–9.5(–11) times the thoracic width. Forewings narrow to broad; 2–2.5 times as long as wide. The outer and hind margins angled at 105–115 degrees. The outer margin convexly curved; forewings apically blunt; forewings predominantly shining-metallic, or neither shining-metallic nor with shining metallic markings; forewings without a jugum. Hindwings ovate to broadly rounded; quite markedly narrower than the forewings to similar in breadth to the forewings; with a rounded apex; the upper surfaces conspicuously patterned above (sometimes dark-bordered, in Zygaena), or plain; with neither discal spot nor transverse lines; with a frenulum.

Neuration of forewings and hindwings dissimilar. Forewings 13 veined; with 2 anal veins. The anal veins of the forewings comprising 1b and 1c. Forewings exhibiting a tubular vein 1c. Vein 1b of the forewings furcate proximally. The transverse vein complete to incomplete. Discal cell of the forewings containing a tubular media (M) vein (likewise that of the hind-wings), or without a tubular media (M) vein (then the M vein vestigial). Hindwings 9 veined, or 10 veined; with 3 anal veins. The anal veins of the hindwings comprising 1a, 1b and 1c. Hindwings exhibiting vein 1a; exhibiting a tubular vein 1c. The transverse vein complete to incomplete. 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins all arising independently of one another. Vein 8 of the hindwings joined to the cell only by a bar (near its middle); not approximating to vein 7.

Fore-legs with a tibial epiphysis, or without a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae 2-spurred, or 4-spurred.

Tympanal organs absent.

Eggs, larvae and pupae. Eggs not flattened (elongate-oval); finely ribbed and/or reticulate. Larval prolegs 10. Larvae exposed feeders. On various (mainly herbaceous) Dicots.

Pupae concealed; above the ground. Empty pupae protruded from place of concealment.

British representation. Genera 2; 10 species. Adscita geryon (Cistus Forester), Adscita statices (Green Forester), Jordanita globulariae (Scarce Forester), Zygaena exulans (Scotch or Mountain Burnet, not illustrated), Zygaena filipendulae (Six-spot Burnet), Zygaena lonicerae (Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet), Zygaena loti (Slender Scotch Burnet, not illustrated), Zygaena purpuralis (Transparent Burnet), Zygaena trifolii (Five-spot Burnet), Zygaena viciae (New Forest Burnet).

Classification. Macromoths. Suborder Ditrysia. Superfamily Zygaenoidea.

Comments. Rare melanic mutations (seemingly selectively disadvantageous) are represented in Zygaena filipendulae.

Illustrations. • British Adscita, Jordanita, Zygaena (Burnets, Foresters): Newman. • Zygaena species (Burnets): Kirby. • Adscita statices (Green Forester: B. Ent. 396). • Adscita statices: B. Ent. 396, legend+text. • Adscita statices: B. Ent. 396, text cont.. • Adscita statices: neuration. • Adscita geryon (Cistus Forester - specimens): photos. • Zygaena trifolii f. palustrella (Five-spot Burnet): freshly emerged (Giles Watson, photo). • Zygaena trifolii f. palustrella, cf. preceding (photo). • Zygaena trifolii f. palustrella, copulating pairs (photo). • Zygaena trifolii f. palustrella (Five-spot Burnet, imbibing: photo, Giles Watson. • Zygaena filipendulae (Six-spot Burnet: B. Ent. 547). • Zygaena filipendulae: B. Ent. 547, legend+text. • Zygaena filipendulae: B. Ent. 547, text cont.. • Zygaena filipendulae (Six-spot Burnet: Giles Watson, photo). • Zygaena trifolii: 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.’.