Agrotis colossa Gyulai & Saldaitis

Gyulai, Peter, Saldaitis, Aidas & Truuverk, Andro, 2017, Notes on the Agrotis colossa Boursin problem, with the description of new Agrotis species from China (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae), Zootaxa 4291 (1), pp. 144-154: 146-149

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Agrotis colossa Gyulai & Saldaitis

sp. n.

Agrotis colossa Gyulai & Saldaitis  , sp. n.

( Figs 1–11View FIGURES 1 – 8View FIGURES 9 – 16, 17–21View FIGURES 17 – 20View FIGURES 21 – 24, 25, 26View FIGURES 25 – 29)

(= Agrotis colossa Boursin, 1965  , manuscript name)

Holotype: ♂ ( Fig 1View FIGURES 1 – 8) “ Li –kiang. ( China)  . Provinz Nord – Yuennan. 14.iii.1935. H. Höne “ (yellow label); “ Holotype ” (red label); “préparation No. Hö. 15 Ch. Boursin ” (white label); “ Agrotis colossa Brsn.  sp. n. ♂ Boursin det.” (white label), (coll. ZFMK). 

Paratypes: ♀ “ allotype ” “ Li –kiang. ( China). Provinz Nord –Yuennan. 14.iii.1935  . H. Höne “ (yellow label); “ Allotype ” (red label) (coll. ZFMK) ( Fig. 3View FIGURES 1 – 8); further paratypes: 1 ♂ and 1 ♀ China, NW Yunnan, Baima Xue Shan, near Yak –La pass, N28°24.900′, E98°59.800′, 3900 m, 21.–22.v.2012 legGoogleMaps  . Floriani (coll. AFM)  ; 1 ♀, same data (coll. PGM)  ; 2 ♂, China, NW Yunnan, Lijiang / Zhongdian, near Tuguancun , N27°29.700′, E99°53.700′, 3900 m, 24–25.v.2012, leg. Floriani (coll. PGM)GoogleMaps  ; 1 ♂, China, Sichuan, road from Shimian to Mianning, Yuan Gen village , N102°19.744′, E29°03.798′, 3900 m, 28.iii.2011, Floriani & Saldaitis leg. (coll. AFM)  ; 27 ♂, 5 ♀, China, West Sichuan, Shaluli Shan, 40 km NW from Daocheng , 4060 m, N29°17.401′, E100°05.063′, 08.v.2016, Saldaitis leg ( DNA voucher code MF 071465View Materials)GoogleMaps  ; 6 ♂, 5 ♀, the same, but 03.v.2016; 11 ♂, 3 ♀, the same, but 12.–13.v.2016 (DNA voucher code MF 071462); 11 ♂, 1 ♀, China, West Sichuan, near Litang , 4000 m, N29°49.136′, E100°20.576′, 04.v.2016, Saldaitis leg ( DNA voucher code MF 071463View Materials)GoogleMaps  ; 9 ♂, the same, but 09.–10.v.2016; 2 ♂, 2 ♀, China, West Sichuan, 25 km N from Batang , 3100 m, dry valley, N30°12.049′, E099°14.078′, 05.V.2016, Saldaitis leg ( DNA voucher code MF 071464View Materials)GoogleMaps  ; 1 ♂, China, W. Sichuan, 50 km. NE from Xiangcheng , 3200 m, 07.v.2016, Saldaitis leg  ; 5♂, China, W. Sichuan, road Daocheng / Litang , 4100 m, N29°36.788’, E100°19.825’, 11.v.2016, Saldaitis leg., Slide Nos PGY 2954 ♂ ( DNA voucher code MF 071458View Materials)GoogleMaps  , PGY3118♂ (DNA voucher code MF 071460), PGY4515♂, PGY4523♂, PGY4581♂, PGY4582♂ (DNA voucher code MF 071461), PGY4560♀ (DNA voucher code MF 071459), PGY4580♀ (colls. AFM, ASV, M. Dvořák, F. Hofer, PGM, H. Seibald, W. Speidel & J. Stumpf).

Diagnosis. Agrotis colossa  sp. n. differs from the majority of its Asiatic congeners by the relatively large size (wingspan 38–46 mm, forewing length 19–22 mm, however a local population restricted to the high mountains of western Sichuan only 33–41 mm, length of forewing 15–19 mm), characteristic forewing pattern and the broadly bipectinate antennae of the males. In Asia, the only really resembling taxa among the additional member of the genus Agrotis  is the Agrotis nagyapo Hreblay & Ronkay, 1998  ( Fig. 12View FIGURES 9 – 16), those of the size (38–48 mm wingspan and 19–23 mm forewing length) is generally matching with the A. colossa  . Agrotis colossa  ( Figs 1–11View FIGURES 1 – 8View FIGURES 9 – 16) is distinguishable from it by the generally lighter, sometimes whitish thoracic pubescence of both tegulae, the more conspicuously defined stigmata, particularly the larger claviform spot, the more outward projecting postmedial line in the medium section and the more uniform and darker hindwing, with more prominent cellular spot, whereas the latter one is missing or obsolescent in the A. nagyapo  . Although the original types of the A. colossa  are old and the colouration might be changed somewhat during the past decades, it is well visible, that the new species have rather variable slate grey suffused ground colour in the forewing (there are few darker, greyish or brown coloured specimens among the fresh ones), whereas this is brownish –greyish and pale ochre suffused in the A. nagyapo  ( Fig. 12View FIGURES 9 – 16). The stigmata are incompletely black outlined in A. colossa  , orbicular spot somewhat elongated without or only with slight dark infiltration and always without ochre suffusion; while completely black outlined and pale ochre suffused in A. nagyapo  . The separation needs careful study by the comparison of the male genitalia, since slight differences are recognizable as it is usual in the genera Agrotis  , however distinction is much easier in case of the females. Agrotis colossa  ( Figs 17–21View FIGURES 17 – 20View FIGURES 21 – 24) have somewhat stronger valva and higher juxta with slighter medial incision and finer carinal plate with slighter, longer, finely dentate basal bar in the vesica and longer vesica tube. The female genitalia of the “ allotype ” not respectable, since the abdomen has been glued and no Agrotis  genitalia was found inside after dissection (very likely of Xestia Hübner  or Sineugraphe Boursin  sp., Fig. 29View FIGURES 25 – 29) The genitalia of a female specimen ( Fig. 25View FIGURES 25 – 29), collected not very far from the “ allotype ” shows remarkable differences from that of the A.

nagyapo  ( Fig. 28View FIGURES 25 – 29) by the significantly longer papillae anales, apophyses anteriores and posteriores (particularly the former ones), conspicuously longer appendix bursae and shorter, more ample corpus bursae.

It is worth to mention, that A. colossa  considerably different externally from the Nepalian (Langtang) Agrotis maculaclarus Plante, 1979  , of which have also bipectinated antennae in the males and filiform in the females.

Nevertheless, separation is easy, since A. colossa  strikingly differs from the A. maculaclarus  externally by its more elongated forewing apex, unicolorous, evenly slate greyish or light greyish brown coloured forewings, very conspicuous, distinctive forewing pattern, sharply defined, mostly encircled stigmata; while the ground colour of the forewings dark granulose grey in the A. maculaclarus  , the marginal area and the stigmata conspicuously lighter, somewhat whitish suffused, stigmata less defined, the antemedial line less wavy and out warding in the lower section and the cellular spot in the hindwing is not present or obsolescent. In the male genitalia, the shape and the width of the valva very different, as in the A. colossa  sp. n. these are much thinner, longer, elongated, particularly in the terminal section; the single female A. maculaclarus  genitalia has never been dissected.

Description. Wingspan 38–46 mm, forewing length 19–22 mm, however a local population from Sichuan only 33–41 mm, length of forewing 15–19 mm); the known females, particularly the “ allotype ” are distinctly smaller. Antennae of the males are light brown, broadly bipectinated, however somewhat more lighter, filiform in the females; the palpi brown, last section and the frons light brown, vertex and vesture of the thorax whitish – greyish brown, however lighter in both sides, whereas pale or whitish on the underside; the collar darker with a medial black line. The ground colour of the forewings unicolorous variable light slate grey or grey somewhat with greyish brown suffusion, however there are a few darker, greyish brown coloured specimens among the fresh ones. The ground plan of the forewing pattern basically resembles those of the close relative species; however, the wing shape and the intense of the pattern variable. The most remarkable external features of the new species are the forewing with pointed apex, the well discernible, more or less evenly black outlined orbicular, reniform and claviform stigmata with the black defined, double, somewhat wavy antemedial line with a projection in the lower section inward the medial area and the simple, crenulated postmedial transverse line. The hind wings lighter, evenly whitish –brown suffused in which entirely lack the medial line, whereas the cellular spot present, tiny, but well discernible. Under side of the wings lighter greyish, the hindwings whitish, with diffuse brown shade of the reniform stigma and the postmedial transverse line in the forewing and with obsolescent brown shade of the medial line and cellular spot in the hindwing. The individual variability in size, intensity of ground colour and wing pattern can be on wide scale.

Male genitalia ( Figs 17–21View FIGURES 17 – 20View FIGURES 21 – 24). It can be characterized by the not evenly broad (medially broader) and straight, apically slightly hooked uncus; long terminally rounded penicular lobes of the tegumen; shield-like, dorsally somewhat double humped juxta with medial incision and a small ventral medial flap –like appendage; V –shaped vinculum; forward projected, terminally inward curved, apically pointed clasper; spatulate valva with terminally elongated section and fine clavus; almost straight, rather short aedeagus, with fine, long carinal plate, extended in a slight, long, finely dentate basal bar in the very long tubular vesica with basal and subbasal swellings and a terminal bulb-like swelling.

Female genitalia ( Figs 25, 26View FIGURES 25 – 29). The main recognizable features ( Figs 25, 26View FIGURES 25 – 29) are the rather long apophyses anterioris and posterioris (the latter ones are longer), the small plate-like shape of the antrum, the membranous, proximally evenly tighter ductus bursae, the very long, tubular, posteriorly evenly broaden, terminally rounded appendix bursae and the much shorter, saccate, distally evenly broaden terminally globular-ovoid corpus bursae.

Biology and distribution. Series of males and females were collected at light on 21.–25.v. 2012 in northwest China's Yunnan province in a remote area, located near Lijiang and Yak La pass of the Baima Xue mountain range, later 03.–13.v. 2016 in remote parts of west China Sichuan province near the Daocheng, Litang, and Batang of the Shaluli Shan mountain range. The new species was collected at altitudes ranging from 3100 to 4100 meters in mountain mixed forests dominated by various conifer trees, bushes and rhododendron.

DNA Barcoding. Molecular variation based on the Kimura two –parameter distance model ( Kimura 1980) for 658 bp COI DNA barcodes in eight A. colossa  specimens varied from 0 to 1.6 % and in four A. rachingeri  from 0 to 0.2 %. A pairwise comparison between A. colossa  and A. rachingeri  specimens resulted in a variation from 3.6 % to 4.6 %, i.e. more than two times larger than the largest intraspecific genetic distance detected in A. colossa  .

Specimen ID with DNA voucher code and GenBank accession code of the COI sequences, are listed as follows: A. colossa  PT, Sichuan, road from Shimian to Mianning, 28.iii.2011, PGY 2954 ♂ ( Agrotis  1; MF 071458View Materials)  ; A. colossa  PT, Yunnan, Baima Xue Shan near Yak – La pass, 21.–22.v.2012, PGY 4560 ♀ ( Agrotis  2; MF 071459View Materials)  ; A. colossa  PT, NW Yunnan, Lijiang / Zhongdian, near Tuguancun, 24–25.v.2012, PGY 3118 ♂ ( Agrotis  3; MF 071460View Materials)  ; A. colossa  PT, NW Yunnan, Lijiang / Zhongdian, near Tuguancun, 24–25.v.2012, PGY 4582 ♂ ( Agrotis  4; MF 071461View Materials)  ; A. colossa  PT, male, West Sichuan, Shaluli Shan, 40 km NW from Daocheng, 12-13.v.2016, ( Agrotis  5; MF 071462View Materials)  ; A. colossa  PT, male, West Sichuan, near Litang, 04.v.2016, ( Agrotis  6; MF 071463View Materials)  ; A. colossa  PT, female, West Sichuan, 25 km N from Batang, 05.v.2016, ( Agrotis  7; MF 071464View Materials)  ; A. colossa  PT, female, West Sichuan, Shaluli Shan, 40 km NW from Daocheng, 08.v.2016, ( Agrotis  8; MF 071465View Materials)  ; A. rachingeri  PT, 2 males & 2 females, West Sichuan, 25 km N from Batang , 05.v.2016, (males: Agrotis  9; MF 071466View Materials, Agrotis  10; MF 071467View Materials; females: Agrotis  11; MF 071468View Materials, Agrotis  12; MF 071469View Materials)  .

Etymology. Authors decided to keep the original name by Charles Boursin, keeping respect his original decision and in honour his outstanding job on the Palaearctic Noctuidae  ; furthermore the name is very fits with this species.


Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig


Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History


Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport


University of Coimbra Botany Department