Insects of Britain and Ireland: the genera of Lepidoptera-Noctuidae

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Character list

#1. <Synonyms:>/

Adults

#2. Head <indumentum, rough or smooth, exclusive of any frontal tuft>/

1. rough <haired or scaled - denotes scaled unless stated otherwise>/

2. smooth/

#3. Head <whether exhibiting a frontal tuft>/

1. with a frontal tuft/

2. without a frontal tuft /

#4. Head <presence of horny frontal plate>/

1. with a projecting, triangular horny frontal plate (concealed in dense scales)/

2. with a projecting, quadrangular horny frontal plate (concealed in dense scales)/

3. without a projecting, horny frontal plate /

#5. Face <prominences>/

1. with a rounded prominence/

2. with a small truncate-conical prominence having a raised rim/

3. without any conspicuous prominence /

#6. Eyes <surface, hairy or glabrous>/

1. hairy/

2. glabrous/

#7. Eyes <whether with a marginal row of long cilia>/

1. ciliated <with a marginal row of long cilia curving over them>/

2. not ciliated /

#8. Antennae of males <form>/

1. simple/

2. ciliate/

3. <unilaterally> dentate <including ‘serrate’>/

4. bipectinate/

Some caution is required in using this character, because (1), the descriptions refer exclusively to male insects; and (2), the literature consulted is unconvincing regarding details of non-pectinate forms. However, since the occurrence of bipectinated antennae is well documented, and since an insect with bipectinated antennae will presumably be a male, possession by a specimen of state 4 is certainly a useful identificatory state. The other states are best avoided for this purpose.

#9. Tongue <development>/

1. <short and> poorly developed/

2. well developed /

#10. Labial palps <size>/

1. short/

2. medium/

3. long/

#11. Labial palps <size relative to diameter of eyes>/

1. at least three times as long as the diameter of the eyes/

2. less than three times the diameter of the eyes /

#12. Labial palps <carriage>/

1. drooping/

2. porrect <pointing forward, beak-like>/

3. ascending/

“Porrect” in older literature appears to mean “projecting” (i.e., when the head is viewed from above), so that the descriptions of Newman et al. cannot be safely interpreted.

#13. Wingspan <centre of thorax to tip of forewing, multiplied by 2>/

mm/

‘Wingspan’: centre of thorax to tip of forewing, multiplied by 2.

#14. <Colouring of head, thorax and abdomen>/

#15. Forewings <pervasive colour: general impression when viewed at about 40 cm in good natural light> /

Published descriptions of lepidopteran wing colours are often very inadequate and misleading, with later efforts often comparing very poorly with Newman's. For example, compare the latter's pleasant and genuinely informative word pictures with Meyrick's boring and often inadequate attempts to be scientific.

Ferrugineous: rust-coloured.

Fuscous: sombre brownish grey.

Ochreous: pale yellowish- or orangish-brownish, straw-coloured.

Umber: greenish brown. ‘Burnt umber’: dark (as if charred) greenish brown.

#16. Forewings <pervasive colour of upper side> /

1. white/

2. whitish/

3. pale ochreous/

4. ochreous/

5. cream/

6. yellow/

7. orange/

8. purple, purplish, red, pinkish or rosy/

9. olive brown <yellowish brown to yellowish green>/

10. olive green <deep yellowish green>/

11. greenish/

12. green/

13. light brown/

14. brown/

15. reddish brown <including brick-red>/

16. pale fuscous/

17. fuscous/

18. pale grey/

19. grey/

20. blackish/

21. black/

Published descriptions of lepidopteran wing colours are often very inadequate and misleading, with later efforts often comparing very poorly with Newman's. For example, compare the latter's pleasant and genuinely informative word pictures with Meyrick's boring and often inadequate attempts to be scientific.

Ferrugineous: rust-coloured.

Fuscous: sombre brownish grey.

Ochreous: pale yellowish- or orangish-brownish, straw-coloured.

Umber: greenish brown. ‘Burnt umber’: dark (as if charred) greenish brown.

#17. Forewings <whether green or with a green or greenish component> /

1. green/

2. greenish tinged/

3. neither green nor greenish tinged /

#18. Forewings <whether purplish or rosy marked or tinged> /

1. purplish marked or tinged/

2. rosy marked or tinged/

3. neither purplish nor rosy marked or tinged /

#19. Forewings <patterning, exclusive of stigmata>/

1. plain/

2. <predominantly> patterned transversely/

3. <predominantly> longitudinally streaked/

4. complexly patterned/

#20. The patterning <of the forewings, conspicuousness>/

1. well marked/

2. obscure/

#21. Forewings patterned <marked lighter or darker>/

1. lighter/

2. darker/

3. lighter and darker/

4. in contrasting colours/

#22. Forewings <whether ‘metallic’ (on the upper surface)>/

1. predominantly shining-metallic <brassy, bronze, coppery, silvery>/

2. exhibiting metallic-enamelled effects/

3. neither shining-metallic nor with shining metallic effects /

#23. Reniform <of the forewings, presence>/

1. defined/

2. undefined/

#24. Orbicular <of the forwings, presence>/

1. defined/

2. undefined/

#25. Claviform <of the forewings, presence>/

1. defined/

2. undefined/

#26. Hindwings <ground colour>/

1. white/

2. whitish/

3. whitish-fuscous/

4. fuscous <grey-brown>/

5. grey/

6. whitish brownish/

7. brownish/

8. ochreous/

9. yellowish/

10. yellow/

11. orange/

12. coppery/

13. red/

14. pinkish <rosy tinged>/

15. lilac/

16. blackish/

Published descriptions of lepidopteran wing colours are often very inadequate and misleading, with later efforts often comparing very poorly with Newman's. For example, compare the latter's pleasant and genuinely informative word pictures with Meyrick's inadequate and boring attempts to be scientific.

Ferrugineous: rust-coloured.

Fuscous: sombre brownish grey.

Ochreous: pale yellowish- or orangish-brownish, straw-coloured.

Umber: greenish brown. ‘Burnt umber’: dark (as if charred) greenish brown.

#27. Hindwings <patterning of upper surface>/

1. <more or less> plain <including suffusion, sprinkling, etc.>/

2. terminally darkened/

3. conspicuously patterned <lined, spotted, banded, streaked, etc.>/

#28. <The upper surfaces of the hindwings, whether exhibiting a discal mark:>/

1. with a clear <pigmented> discal mark/

2. without a clear discal mark/

#29. <The upper surfaces of the hindwings, whether exhibiting transverse lines:>/

1. transversely lined <lines detectable, continuous, or dotted>/

2. without transverse lines/

#30. Hindwings <presence or absence of vein 5 (M2)>/

1. exhibiting vein 5 <M2>/

2. lacking vein 5 <M2>/

Wing venation is best viewed from the under-side, where it is more prominent but may still require removal of the scales.

The neuration characters and data accumulated here were taken primarily from Meyrick (1927). Unsurprisingly (see below), cross referencing the resulting descriptions in detail with Imms (1957), Le Cerf and Herbulot (1948), and Common (1970) has resulted in considerably increasing the levels of intra-taxon variation encoded.

The abstruse descriptive terminologies for lepidopteran venation employed in modern entomological text-books represent attempts to standardise across all the insect groups, and involve entangling the descriptive process with phylogenetic hypotheses of doubtful validity. The simpler system presented by Meyrick (1927), which is easier to apply to a specimen in practice, is used here. He provides a wealth of comparative data and drawings of neuration for British Lepidoptera, presumably reflecting his own efforts at consistent interpretion. However, the requirement to identify veins with his standard numbering still involves recognising veins that are “missing” with reference to the “standard” (cf. the diagram accessible via the ‘Lepidopteran morphology’ toolbar button). Also, in the absence of precise definitions, there are evident difficulties in making the required distinctions between “tubular” veins and their vestigial (“reduced”, “obsolescent”, “obsolete”, etc.) manifestations. Contrasting interpetations by different authorities of neuration patterns for the same species are common. The available data are evidently untrustworthy, and since neuration characters are inconvenient for application, their frequent use at critical positions in professional printed keys is unfortunate.

#31. Vein 5 <M2> of the hindwings <strong or weak>/

1. strong/

2. weak/

#32. Vein 5 <M2> of the hindwings <origin relative to 4(M3) and 6(M1)>/

1. arising nearer to vein 6 than to vein 4 <hindwing trifid>/

2. arising nearer to vein 4 than to vein 6 <hindwing quadrifid>/

#33. Vein 5 <M2> of the hindwings <convergent or parallel with vein 4>/

1. <more or less> parallel with vein 4/

2. convergent on vein 4 near their bases/

#34. Retinaculum of males <shape>/

1. represented by a sub-median tuft of hairs/

2. normal /

#35. Thorax <whether crested>/

1. crested <state location>/

2. not crested/

#36. Thorax <degree of hairiness beneath>/

1. densely hairy beneath/

2. thinly hairy beneath/

#37. The males <presence of anterior tarsi>/

1. with anterior tarsi /

2. lacking anterior tarsi/

#38. The males <whether fan-footed>/

1. conspicuously fan-footed, via a long, expansible hair-pencil on each anterior tibia/

2. not fan-footed /

#39. Middle tibiae <with or without spines>/

1. with spines/

2. without spines/

#40. Posterior tibiae <with or without spines>/

1. with spines/

2. without spines/

#41. Posterior tibiae <rough- or smooth-scaled>/

1. rough-scaled/

2. with appressed scales/

#42. Abdomen <whether crested>/

1. crested/

2. not crested/

#43. Living adults found <months>/

1. January/

2. February/

3. March/

4. April/

5. May/

6. June/

7. July/

8. August/

9. September/

10. October/

11. November/

12. December/

Larvae, pupae

#44. Larvae <hairiness>/

1. conspicuously hairy/

2. not conspicuously hairy /

#45. Larvae <whether with red makings>/

1. with red markings/

2. without red markings /

#46. Ventral <larval> prolegs <number - excluding anal claspers>/

1. 4 <i.e., 2 pairs>/

2. 6 <3 pairs>/

3. 8 <4 pairs - the usual state> /

#47. Larvae <shape>/

1. posteriorly humped/

2. posteriorly rounded/

3. posteriorly tapered/

#48. Larvae feeding on <foodplants>/

British representation

#49. Larvae <feeding habits>/

#50. Larvae pupating <location>/

1. on vegetative parts of the foodplant/

2. within the stems of the foodplant/

3. in or under bark or rotten wood/

4. on the surface of the ground/

5. in the soil/

#51. <Number of species in Britain, including ‘adventives’>/

species/

Bradley (2000) details in precise terms the national status of many species, including those here tagged ‘adventive’. The term as used here denotes ‘not native to this environment’, and includes species usually indicated in check lists as ‘of doubtful British status’. Assignment is inevitably somewhat arbitrary, because situations where specimens have been rarely but genuinely found at large in the British Isles as a result of migrations beyond the normal range of a species, or of accidental transport by human agencies, are hard to disentangle from honest but erroneous records and cases of fraud. Migrant species recorded regularly in Britain as adults but which are unable breed successfully there are treated as ‘native’ in this connection.

#52. Status in Britain/

1. indigenous /

2. breeding immigrants <not normally surviving the winter>/

3. vagrant/

4. colonist/

5. adventive <accidental, transient introduction>/

6. alien <probably unjustifiably included in British checklists>/

#55. <Species list (scientific and common names):>/

Complete lists of species and genera are given here, cf. Bradley et al. (1972) and Bradley (2000).

Classification

#56. <Tribe, Bradley 2000>/

1. Noctuinae/

2. Hadeninae/

3. Cuculliinae/

4. Acronictinae/

5. Bryophilinae/

6. Amphipyrinae/

7. Stiriinae/

8. Heliothinae/

9. Eustrotiinae/

10. Acontiinae/

11. Eariadinae/

12. Chloephorinae/

13. Pantheinae/

14. Plusiinae/

15. Catocalinae/

16. Ophiderinae/

17. Rivulinae/

18. Hypeninae/

19. Strepsimaninae/

20. Herminiinae/

General comments

#57. <General comments>/

Miscellaneous

#58. Abbreviated taxon name:/

#59. <Illustrations:>/


To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

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

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