Abantis meru Evans 1947

Cock, Matthew J. W. & Congdon, T. Colin E., 2011, Observations on the biology of Afro-tropical Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera) principally from Kenya. Part 2. Pyrginae: Tagiadini 2893, Zootaxa 2893 (1), pp. 1-66 : 58-60

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https://doi.org/ 10.11646/zootaxa.2893.1.1

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Abantis meru Evans 1947


Abantis meru Evans 1947 ( Figures 51–53 View FIGURE 51 View FIGURE 52 View FIGURE 53 )

Only some years after monographing the African Hesperiidae did Evans (1947) separate this Kenyan endemic from A. paradisea . The type was collected by V.G.L. van Someren at Meru, edge of lower forest, August 1937 ( Evans 1947) and it is restricted to a few areas in the Central Highlands of Kenya, in high elevation forests of Meru, Nyambeni and Gatamaiyu. Larsen (1991) notes that it is found in open places in forest country, and perhaps normally stays in the canopy, coming down to feed at flowers and lay ova. van Someren (1974) lists Vernonia jugalis ( Asteraceae ) as a food plant, while Sevastopulo (1975) gives Hibiscus ( Malvaceae ). However, Larsen (1991) suggests that V. jugalis may be a mis-quoted adult nectar source, and lists only Hibiscus as the food plant. Vernonia certainly seems an unlikely caterpillar food plant, but a likely adult nectar source, so Larsen is most probably correct to dismiss this record. I. Bampton found the early stages of A. meru on Macaranga sp. (probably kilimandscharica) ( Euphorbiaceae ) ( Figures 52-53 View FIGURE 52 View FIGURE 53 ). In view of this, Sevastopulo’s (1975) listing of Hibiscus sp. as a food plant record is suspect. Sevastopulo (unpublished) does not seem to have reared this species himself, and as far as we are aware it has never been bred on Hibiscus . Possibly the food plant was extrapolated from Abantis paradisea . The caterpillars of the two species are rather similar, so the apparent difference in food plants is noteworthy.

The caterpillar of A. meru which Bampton found ( Figure 52 View FIGURE 52 ) has yellow and black markings similar to those of A. paradisea ( Figure 49 View FIGURE 49 ), but the yellow spots are edged with black, and the black connecting the two yellow spots is narrower and less intense. The individual of A. meru shown here has three yellow spots on the left side of segment A2, and three on the right side of segment A4, but otherwise two spots on each side of segments A2–A8. This asymmetrical variation suggests that the markings may be quite variable when more caterpillars are examined.

The pupa is similar to others of the genus, but more heavily marked on the head, base of the appendages and abdomen.