Synemon ignita Kallies & Edwards

Kallies, Axel, Edwards, Ted, Young, Andy & Douglas, Fabian, 2016, Synemon ignita sp. nov., a new sun moth species from southern Australia (Lepidoptera, Castniidae), Zootaxa 4092 (3), pp. 436-444: 437-443

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Synemon ignita Kallies & Edwards

sp. nov.

Synemon ignita Kallies & Edwards   sp. nov.

Figs 3 –6, 8 View FIGURES 1 – 8 , 13 –16 View FIGURES 9 – 16 , 18, 20 View FIGURES 17 – 20 , 22– 28 View FIGURES 21 – 28. S

Type material: Holotype. ♂, ‘ 35.58 S 137.11 E Vivonne Bay Kangaroo Is SA 25 Jan 1997 Nielsen, Hopper & Horak’ (ANIC). Paratypes (58 ♂, 24 ♀). South Australia, Kangaroo Island: 2 ♂, same data as holotype; 9 ♂, 2 ♀, labelled as holotype, but dated 26.i. 1997; 1 ♂, ‘Vivonne Bay Kangaroo I[s.] Mus[eum] Exp[edition] 2 1926 ’ and on reverse ‘N.B. Tindale SA Mus’ [green card]; 4 ♂, 3 ♀, ‘Vivonne Bay Kangaroo I[s.] Mus[eum] Exp[edition] 2 1926 [green card]; 1 ♀, labelled as previous but also ‘ S. ignita Tindale   ms’; 1 ♀, ‘Eleanor R[i]v[er] Kangaroo Is Tindale Jan 1932 ’ (ANIC, SAMA); 1 ♂, Mt Taylor Rd W, 35 ° 58.357 S 137 ° 02.657E, 1.ii. 2007 (ANIC); 1 ♂, 1 ♀, Vivonne Bay, 35 ° 59.89 S 137 ° 09.61E, larva xii. 2004, emg. 27.i. 2006 (♂), 12.ii. 2006 (♀), leg. A. Kallies & D.A. Young (CAK); 14 ♂, 3 ♀, same locality as previous but 9.i. 2007 (6 ♂, 1 ♀), 10.i. 2007 (1 ♂, 1 ♀), 13.i. 2007 (7 ♂, 1 ♀ [Gen. prep. AK 762]), 17.i. 2007 (1 ♀), leg. D.A. Young (CAK); 2 ♂, Vivonne Bay, 35 ° 59.759 S 137 ° 10.798 E, 15.i. 2007 (1 ♂), 4.ii. 2007 (1 ♂), leg. D.A. Young (CFD); 7 ♂, 2 ♀, Vivonne Bay, 1 km W of old dump, 35 ° 59.888 S 137 ° 09.612E, 3.i. 2007 (1 ♂), 4.i. 2007 (1 ♂), 9.i. 2007 (2 ♂, 2 ♀), 13.i. 2007 (2 ♂), 4.i. 2008 (1 ♂), leg. D.A. Young (CFD, CRG); 1 ♀, Vivonne Bay CP, Point Ellen, 3559.858 'S 13711.099 'E, 28.i. 2008, leg. R. Glatz (CRG); 1 ♀, Vivonne Bay CP, 2 km NW of Point Ellen, 35 ° 59.644 ’S 137 ° 10.700 ’E, leg. D.A. Young (CRG); 7 ♂, 3 ♀; same locality but 10.i. 2016, leg. D.A. Young & R. Glatz (CRG). Victoria, Grampians National Park: 1 ♂, 254 0 628709 5881286, 8.ii. 2010, leg. G. Rudolph (CGR); 10 ♂, 5 ♀, ca 10 km SW of Halls Gap, Rosea Tk. on NE side of Moora Moora Creek, ca 400 m, 10.ii. 2011, leg. A. Kallies, G. Rudolph, F. Douglas (CAK, CFD, CGR, ANIC); 1 ♂, junction of Asses Ears Road & Wallaby Rock Road, 280 m, 37 °06’04’’S, 142 ° 18 ’ 20 ’’E, 15.i. 2012, leg. and coll. K. Gottschaldt; 1 ♀, same locality, 16.i. 2012, leg. and coll. E. Friedrich.

Additional material examined. Synemon ignita   : 1 specimen (photographic record), Grampians N.P., Moora Moora Creek, 29.i. 2010, G. Rudolph; 4 pupae, 1 exuvia, Vivonne Bay, 1 km W of old dump, 355 ° 9.888 S 137 ° 09.612E, 3.i. 2007, leg. D.A. Young (CFD); 4 exuvia protruding from bases of Lepidosperma   aff. viscidum, Grampians N.P.   , Rosebrook- Glenisla Rd. at 3.5 km. SSW of junction with Wallaby Rock Rd., 26.i. 2013, WGS 84 Map datum: alt. 267m, 54 H 0 612306 5891239, leg. F. Douglas (CFD). Synemon magnifica   : New South Wales: 1 ♀, Blackheath, 16.xii. 1952, leg. K.D. Fairey (ANIC, Gen. Prep. AK 787); 3 ♂, 2 ♀♀, same data, but leg. L.H. Mosse-Robinson (ANIC Genitalia slides H 308, H 368, H 307); 1 ♂, Blue Mts, Blackheath, 27.xii. 1943, leg. C. Wyatt (ANIC Genitalia slide 11810); 1 ♂, 11.5 km NNE Nerriga, 760 m, 35.03 S 150.09 E, 31.xii. 1998, E.D. & R.D. Edwards (ANIC); 1 ♂, same data as previous, but 1.i. 1988 (ANIC Genitalia slide 11811); 1 ♂, same data as previous, but 6.xii. 2008, leg. A. Kallies & E.D. Edwards (CAK); 1 ♀, 5 km SE of Audley, 2.i. 1972, leg. E.D. Edwards (ANIC Genitalia slide 11934); 1 ♂, 1 ♀, Royal National Park, 5.xii. 2005, leg. A. Kallies & D. Britton (CAK).

Description. Male ( Figs 3, 5, 8 View FIGURES 1 – 8 ). Alar expanse 41–45 mm (42.7+/-1.4 mm, n= 14). Head: vertex with dark grey piliform and lamellar scales; frons with projecting piliform and lamellar scales, grey; labial palpus appressed to head reaching frons, white; haustellum present, coiled, not well developed; antenna black narrowly annulated with white scales, distal few flagellomeres black above and white beneath, club black above, white proximally beneath, expanding abruptly, nudum 8 orange brown on anterior third of club, apiculus scaled short narrow, of single annulus. Thorax: robust, above dark grey, of mixed piliform and broad lamellar scales; a narrow collar of scales; lateral tufts of long grey scales from metathorax present; beneath grey, tinged orange laterally; legs grey above, pale grey beneath, fore leg epiphysis ( Fig. 20 View FIGURES 17 – 20 ) clothed in short spines, rounded at tip, shorter and narrow, terminating well short of end of tibia. Abdomen: stout, dark grey above, T 2, T 3 with numerous long grey scales, beneath grey, tinged with orange scales laterally.

Forewing: costa slightly arched at base, straight; apex rounded; termen rounded and angled inwards; inner margin almost straight. Dorsal side very dark grey with markings of black; entire wing with scattered pale grey scales; basal third of wing dark grey; a median black band from costa to inner margin indistinct, broader and more distinct at about CuA 2 where angled inwards and outlined by pale grey scales, narrowing posteriorly and sharply angled outwards near inner margin; a broad black patch at two thirds at costa, extending from costa to CuA 1, broadest at costa; a band of illdefined grey subapical spots from R 2 to M 3; postmedian area between CuA 2 and 1 A+ 2 A with faint ill-defined elliptical patches outlined in grey scales; a submarginal band of discrete black spots between R 2 and 1 A+ 2 A; margin dark grey; cilia dark grey. Ventral side black with white and orange-red markings; basal half black with scattered orange-red scales; a broad orange-red median band from costa to inner margin, proximal edge displaced at M 3; an orange-red subapical band from R 2 to M 3; white nearest costa and some white in centre; a submarginal band of discrete ill-defined orange-red spots between the veins from apex to inner margin, anterior three or four spots white, not fusing or just fusing with subapical band and not fusing with median band; a terminal black line; cilia dark grey.

Hindwing: termen evenly rounded, slightly flattened in tornal area. Dorsal side with large orange-red area at distal end of cell, broadly running into median orange-red band, which runs unbroken extending from Sc+R 1 to 1 A+ 2 A; a submarginal band of orange-red spots from M 2 to 1 A+ 2 A, usually with the orange-red spots anterior to M 3 small; anal area black basally, sometimes with a tornal ill-defined orange-red area joining the median orange-red band; cilia black, orange from Sc+R 1 to M 1 and some orange at tornus. Ventral side black, partly obscured by orange-red spots; basal half of wing black, partly obscured by orange-red scales; an orange spot at distal end of cell, broadly running into median orange-red band, which runs from Sc+R 1 to 1 A+ 2 A, narrow and with some white centres near apex, sometimes running into submarginal row of spots; submarginal row of orange-red spots from Sc+R 1 to 1 A+ 2 A, spots anterior to M 3 small and white, a narrow black terminal line; anal area broadly orange, tornal spot orange-red; cilia dark grey, a few orange scales near apex and tornus.

Female ( Figs 4, 6 View FIGURES 1 – 8 ). Alar expanse 42.5–50 mm (46.2+/-2.9 mm, n= 7). Similar to male, but larger, apex more rounded, wings slightly broader. Colouration similar to male, but anal area on upper side of hindwing extensively orange-red, a white spot at end of cell on forewing above and anterior grey subapical spot mostly white. Underside with orange-red colouring more extensive and black areas often reduced and fragmented; main orange-red bands with white centres. Abdomen more extensively pale orange-brown.

Male genitalia ( Figs 13–16 View FIGURES 9 – 16 ). Uncus short, of uniform width with a small lateral bump, tip with broad rounded extension, with short setae; gnathos arms with broad sclerotisations beside anal tube; anal tube well sclerotised; tegumen broad, expanding to very broad where joins vinculum; vinculum sharply angled; saccus with broad, short, bifurcated arms; juxta well developed, bent sharply backwards to a point and then forwards; valva rounded, compact with prominent upturned spine at tip and some humps on costa, with numerous short setae; phallus moderately long, well sclerotised, broad and broadening anteriorly, strongly and evenly curved, bluntly pointed, anteriorly with phallobase slightly recurved; ductus ejaculatorius longer than phallus, with numerous coils.

Female genitalia ( Figs 17, 18 View FIGURES 17 – 20 ). Papillae anales short pointed sclerotised; ovipositor long, fairly narrow, extensible, sclerotised, with stout lateral hairs towards tip, numerous fine setae near base; apophyses long, heavily sclerotised, apophyses anteriores about half length of apophyses posteriores which extend from the tip of the papillae; sinus vaginalis with some sclerotised thickening; ostium bursae at posterior edge of S 7; ductus seminalis from shortly before ostium, some thickening of ductus bursae at junction; ductus bursae long narrow coiled, tightly coiled near corpus bursae; corpus bursae large, elongate spherical, without signum.

Variation. Within both of the populations there is variation in size. Some males have a white spot at the end of the cell and some white in the grey subapical spots on the upper side of the forewing. There is variation in the extent to which the orange-red discal spot runs into the median band on the upper side of the hindwing but they are almost always joined. The number of orange-red submarginal spots on both surfaces of the hindwing varies. The sexes are similar, however, the female is usually larger, displays an orange-red anal area in the upper side of the hindwing and has larger, more evident white markings on the upper side of the forewing.

Diagnosis. S. ignita   ( Figs 3 -6, 8 View FIGURES 1 – 8 ) is similar and closely related to S. magnifica   ( Figs 1 -2, 7 View FIGURES 1 – 8 ), which occurs on sandstone, and sometimes granite, plateaus and coastal heath from central New South Wales to the south-east of Queensland. It differs, however, by a number of characters. The orange patch in the distal end of the cell of the hindwing runs into the orange median band, while it is well separated by a continuous transverse, black band in S. magnifica   . Thus, the black band is reduced to two spots in S. ignita   , one connected to the anterior margin of the wing, the other connected to the dark anal area. S. ignita   has a row of distinct subterminal black spots in the forewing, which is ill-defined in S. magnifica   . In S. ignita   the ventral side of the forewing has four relatively large grey patches near the apex, which are much smaller in S. magnifica   . The orange areas of the ventral side of the forewing are large and relatively dark in S. ignita   , but smaller and suffused with yellow in S. magnifica   . In males, the anal area of the forewing is black, while it is orange in S. magnifica   . The white spots on the ventral side of the hindwing are distinct and well defined in S. ignita   but ill-defined and smaller in S. magnifica   . Finally, the black subbasal spot on the ventral side of the hindwing is small and ill-defined in S. ignita   , larger in S. magnifica   ( Figs 7, 8 View FIGURES 1 – 8 ).

The two species differ in the morphology of their male genitalia ( Figs 9-16 View FIGURES 9 – 16 ). This includes the shape of the valva, which is longer and relatively slender in S. ignita   , while it is shorter and relatively broader in S. magnifica   . Also, the apical tooth-like process of the valva is more slender and the sclerotized structure at the dorsal margin of the valve is better developed and distinct in S. ignita   . Similarly, the uncus-tegumen complex and the phallus are longer in S. ignita   . Furthermore, the uncus has a single tip in S. ignita   , while it has two tips in in S. magnifica   . The female genitalia of the two species ( Figs 17, 18 View FIGURES 17 – 20 ) differ by the constitution of the bursa copulatrix, which is larger and has a paired scobinate signum in S. magnifica   that is absent in S. ignita   . Finally, the epiphysis of the fore leg is much shorter and narrower in S. ignita   than in S. magnifica   ( Figs 20 View FIGURES 17 – 20 , 21 View FIGURES 21 – 28. S ).

Distribution. Southern Australia. This species has only been found on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, and in the Grampians, Victoria. On Kangaroo Island, the species appears to be largely restricted to the western end of the island where it can be quite abundant. This is likely to be due to clearance and fragmentation of habitat on the remainder of the island. The confirmed distribution is from the southern lagoons of McGillivray, through the southern sub-coastal Mallee, into similar habitat north of West Bay, in Flinders Chase National Park and along the Cape Borda road as far west as the Cape Borda lighthouse. It is particularly abundant in the Cape Borda Wilderness Protection Area and in the sub-coastal sections of Vivonne Bay. It was also observed on a bush property at the southern end of Mt. Taylor road (Seattons Lagoon) and in the Teatree Lagoon. A larva found at Kingscote Airport is likely to belong to this species. In the Grampians the species has been recorded at two localities: one near the north-east side of Moora Moora Creek (approximately 10 km south-west of Halls Gap) and one in the northern Grampians near the junction of Asses Ears Road and Wallaby Rock Road.

Habitat and biology. On Kangaroo Island, this species was collected on lateritic and linoid soils in mallee scrub ( Fig. 21 View FIGURES 21 – 28. S ). It appears to be absent from the sand dune country nearby. In the Grampians it was collected on sandstone plateaus at 400 m and on stony and/or gritty clay-loam soils at less than 280 m. The hostplants are sedges of the genus Lepidosperma   , belonging to the L. viscidum   group of species. Larvae ( Figs 26–27 View FIGURES 21 – 28. S ) feed in the roots of their hostplants for at least 2 years. Pupation takes place in a gallery produced from frass between the roots ( Fig. 28 View FIGURES 21 – 28. S ). Two larvae that appeared to be fully grown were collected in December 2004 by one of us (A.K.). They pupated about a year later, and adults emerged in early 2006. Both in the Grampians and on Kangaroo Island, S. ignita   shares habitat, hostplant and substrate with an undescribed species of Miscera   ( Brachodidae   ).

Based on observations by one of us (D.A.Y.), on Kangaroo Island the flight period starts in the first days of January and lasts until early February, with the moths being most abundant in the second and third week of January. Emergence occurs in the early to mid morning. The moths swarm in sunny conditions in dry Mallee country where courtship and mating was observed in the early afternoon. The males fly rapidly up and down tracks and open areas in the Mallee habitat. Occasionally, the moths would bask on the ground with their wings slightly raised or rest on small branches with their wing held roof-wise ( Figs 22, 23 View FIGURES 21 – 28. S ). Pairs of moth were observed, with the female pursued by a male flying between and around low vegetation in a pattern of loops and short bridging flights. Sporadically, the moths would alight on a piece of low vegetation or fallen branch, often in quite dense growth. The female would always land above the male and climb upwards in short, jerky spurts, sometimes spiralling around the trunk as it climbed, the male pursuing it. During a period of 20-25 minutes this process was repeated 4-5 times. Finally, during one of these occasions, the male moved to the opposite side of the trunk, and when roughly the same height, reached his abdomen around the trunk, and coupling took place. Mating lasted for about 40-60 minutes ( Fig. 24 View FIGURES 21 – 28. S ).

Ovipositing was observed on several occasions. Female moths could be seen flying low between and searching around the Lepidosperma   aff. viscidum   from late morning to mid-afternoon. The flight was relatively slow and the female would spiral around and land on or near Lepidosperma   plants regularly. If it landed adjacent to a sedge, it would approach it in a series of jerky bursts of movement and probe it with its antennae. The female would then climb over and onto the leaves, which was accompanied by a series of rapid wing movements. After a brief period, the moth would back down towards the base of the plant ( Fig. 25 View FIGURES 21 – 28. S ). At this point, the elongate ovipositor could be seen rapidly extending in and out of the abdomen. The wing flapping would become more and more frantic as the moth approached the base of the plant. As she extended her ovipositor, the wings would be held back to back above the body, in a manner reminiscent of the posture of butterflies. As ovipositing was taking place, the moth would become perfectly still in the described posture. Oviposition would last from less than one to around three minutes. The moth would then start to flap its wings again, while walking back up the sedge or away from it across open sand before flying off. Eggs were found at a depth of around 15-20 mm, typically inserted into the papery old leaf-sheath bases of the culm, which forms a series of sheaf-like crevices, facing the surface, on the outside of the culm. The eggs were of an expanded spindle shape and laterally grooved. The colour was a cream tinted white when fresh, becoming light pink as the egg matured and mid-pink just before larval emergence. The first instar larvae are strong reddish pink in colour.

This biology is generally similar to that described for Synemon magnifica   by Common & Edwards (1978).

Remark. The late Norman Tindale kept a detailed and meticulous diary throughout his career, which is now in the SAMA. His diary records “I caught two specimens of Synemon   sp. today flying along the road and saw many hundreds before camping for the night of 24 Jan. 1926 at Vivonne Bay. The following day Synemon   was very active, flying around and settling with its wings folded mothwise.