Udea nicholsae Mally, 2022

Mally, Richard, Aarvik, Leif, Karisch, Timm, Lees, David C. & Malm, Tobias, 2022, Revision of Afrotropical Udea Guenee in Duponchel, 1845, with description of five new species of the U. ferrugalis (Huebner, 1796) group (Lepidoptera, Crambidae, Spilomelinae), Nota Lepidopterologica 45, pp. 315-353 : 315

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Udea nicholsae Mally

sp. nov.

Udea nicholsae Mally sp. nov.

Figs 6 View Figures 6–10 , 16 View Figures 11–20 , 30 View Figures 28–32

Type locality.

Tanzania, Arusha Region, Mount Meru, Arusha National Park, Momella, 1600-1800 m.

Material examined.

Holotype: Tanzania • 1 ♀; Tanganyika sept. [N Tanzania], Mount Meru, Momella; 1600-1800 m a. s. l.; 10-19 Feb. 1964; W. Forster leg.; Mally genitalia dissection no. 1171; ZSM Paratype: 1 ♀; same data as for holotype; 11-20 Jan. 1964; Mally genitalia dissection no. 1172; ZSM .


In the Afrotropical realm, imagines of U. nicholsae most closely resemble those of U. meruensis (Fig. 7 View Figures 6–10 ) and U. delineatalis (Fig. 1 View Figures 1–5 ). They can be distinguished from those of U. meruensis by the fore- and hindwings concolorous, whereas in U. meruensis the hindwings are beige and much lighter than the dark brown forewings. Udea nicholsae can be distinguished from U. delineatalis by the evenly brown hind wings, whereas in U. delineatalis the hindwings are light beige in the basal area and brown in the area outside the postmedian line.

Description of adults.

Head: Dorsal side brown, ventral side beige; labial palps porrect, in females more than twice as long as eye diameter, dorsal side brown, ventral side beige; maxillary palps well developed, long enough to touch each other at apex; haustellum fully developed, basally with beige scales; frons brown, evenly rounded; compound eyes large, hemispherical; antennae brown with swollen pedicellus, flagellum about 2/3 length of forewing, with very short ciliation; vertex in centre and behind ocelli with tuft of long brownish scales. Thorax: Dark brown dorsally, ochre-cream ventrally. Tegulae large, dark brown, with lighter brown tip. Legs ochre-cream, proximal foreleg tarsus with brownish scales. Outer tibial spurs half as long as inner spurs, respectively 2/3 length of inner spur in hindlegs’ distal spur pair. Wings: (Fig. 6 View Figures 6–10 ) Forewing length of females 9 mm. Number of frenulum bristles variable in females: holotype with three bristles on one side and two on other, paratype with two bristles on both sides. Forewings with ochre-brown ground colour. Faint dark brown antemedian line leaving costa at 1/5 obliquely outward, at half its length abruptly directed straight towards anal margin, which it meets in a right angle. Discoidal stigmata with thin dark brown outline and slightly lighter brown filling, proximal stigma relatively large, oval, distal one larger, roughly 8-shaped. Postmedian line dark brown, leaving costa at 2/3 in a bow around distal discoidal stigma, behind stigma leading straight towards forewing base, then under stigma bending into a straight line towards anal margin, running in parallel to antemedian line. Veins on outer margin marked with dark brown dots, terminal wing margin with brown line. Fringe scales basally ochre, distal 2/3 brown. Underside pale brown ochre, distal costa with four dark brown spots, the second one being largest; very faint greyish proximal discoidal stigma, distal stigma more clear and larger, but blurry; faint postmedian line with course as in upper side; terminal dark brown dots on veins, terminal wing margin and fringe scales as in upper side. Hindwing ground colour slightly lighter than that of forewings, except for subterminal area. Dark brown spot-like proximal discoidal stigma slightly proximal of where forewings’ antemedian line meets anal margin, distal discoidal stigma smaller, in hindwing centre. More or less faint postmedian line running from where forewings’ postmedian line meets anal margin, running in a bow around distal discoidal stigma, fading out towards anal margin. Veins on outer margin marked with dark brown dots, terminal wing margin with brown line. Fringe scales ochre, those at vein dots brownish. Underside beige to ochre, discoidal stigmata dark brown, large; postmedian line mainly consisting of a sequence of dark dots: one large dot at costa, a pair of dots in curve outside distal discoidal stigma, a thin diffuse line leading to another pair of fainter dots in subanal area, and a final diffuse anal dot; terminal dark brown dots on veins, terminal wing margin and fringe scales as in upper side. Abdomen: Dark brown, interspersed with ochre scales. Tympanal organs (Fig. 16 View Figures 11–20 ) with lobulus well developed, short, broad. Male genitalia: Unknown. Female genitalia: (Fig. 30 View Figures 28–32 ) Papillae anales simple, with long chaetae. Apophyses posteriores slender, slightly curved dorsad; apophyses anteriores about 1.5-times as long as apophyses posteriores, thicker, widest at 1/4 length from the base, distal half slightly curved dorsad. Antrum simple, sclerotised, broadly funnel-shaped with posterior half with straight, roughly parallel sides and anterior half evenly narrowing to about 1/3 posterior antrum width. A short membranous section leads to colliculum; colliculum tubular, twice as long as broad, sclerotised except for a broad longitudinal membranous dorsal strip. Ductus bursae about as long as colliculum, slightly thinner. Ductus ejaculatorius attached at about 1/4 length of ductus bursae from colliculum. Corpus bursae large, ovate, membranous, anteriorly with minor longitudinal constriction, separating the corpus bursae into a shorter side and a longer one bearing the signum. Signum large, dentate, longitudinally oriented, broadest in anterior half of corpus bursae, anterior and posterior parts drawn out into long tapering arms, with posterior arm about twice as long as anterior one.


So far only known from the type locality, Mount Meru in Tanzania.


This species is named in honour of the late American actress Nichelle Nichols (December 28, 1932 - July 30, 2022), best known for her portrayal of communications officer Nyota Uhura on board the starship USS Enterprise in the science-fiction television series "Star Trek" as well as in six following feature films.

Genetic data.

Not available.


The species is placed in the U. ferrugalis species group (sensu Mally and Nuss 2011) based on the females exhibiting one of the two apomorphies for the group: the presence of a projection at the posterior end of the ductus bursae (folded over in fig. 30 and thus not observable there). The second apomorphy concerns male genitalia, which are not available for study at this time.

It is not unlikely that this species is endemic on the "mountain island" of Mount Meru, much like it appears to be the case for U. momella and U. meruensis , and for U. kirinyaga on Mount Kenya.













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