Synemon petrophila Kallies & Edwards

Kallies, Axel, Edwards, Edward D. & Williams, Andrew A. E., 2020, New and little-known sun-moth species from Australia (Lepidoptera, Castniidae), Zootaxa 4895 (2), pp. 151-195: 176-179

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Synemon petrophila Kallies & Edwards

sp. n.

Synemon petrophila Kallies & Edwards   sp. n.

Royal Sun-moth

Figs 53–56 View FIGURES 49–56 , 62 View FIGURES 61–63 , 65 View FIGURES 64–67 , 72–76 View FIGURES 68–72 View FIGURES 73–76

Literature: Lower 1892: 10 (misidentified as Synemon sophia (White)   var.); Williams et al. 2016: 122–124, figs 30, 31 (as ‘ Synemon   sp. Moirs Rock’).

Material examined. Holotype: Ƌ ‘ Moir Rock , NE of Salmon Gums, 32.39S 121.25E, 11 Jan 1993, E.D. Edwards, E.S. Nielsen’ ( ANIC) GoogleMaps   . Paratypes: 1♀, Jimberlana Hill , 5.4 km E Norseman, 32.09S 121.49E, 28.i.1991, D.C.F. Rentz ( ANIC) GoogleMaps   ; 16Ƌ, 8♀, Jimberlana Hill , 32.09S 121.49E, 12.i.1993, E.D. Edwards, E.S. Nielsen ( ANIC) (geni-talia slides 11801, 11800, 18540, ♀ 13066) ( Figs 55, 56 View FIGURES 49–56 , 62 View FIGURES 61–63 , 64 View FIGURES 64–67 ) ( ANIC) GoogleMaps   ; 3Ƌ, 1♀, Jimberlana Hill , 3208’46.8” S 12148 View Materials ’46.5”E, 8.i.2011 (1♀, 1Ƌ), 9.i.2011 (2Ƌ), A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 1♀, 7Ƌ, Jimberlana Hill , 3208’24.6” S 12150 View Materials ’47.4”E, 8.i.2015, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM, ANIC)   ; 2♀, 6Ƌ, Nyabing , 3332’58.0” S 11809 View Materials ’48.0”E, 17.i.2011, A.A.E. Williams ( Figs 53, 54 View FIGURES 49–56 ) ( WAM, ANIC)   ; 6Ƌ, 4♀, 60 km E Hyden , 32.25S 119.28E, 31.i.1993, E.D. Edwards, E.S. Nielsen ( ANIC) GoogleMaps   ; 19Ƌ, 3♀, Mt Cook , 32.26S 116.19E, 28.i.1993, E.D. Edwards, E.S. Nielsen ( ANIC) GoogleMaps   ; 1Ƌ, 1♀, Moir Rock , 32.39S 121.25E, 11.i.1993, 13.i.1993, E.D. Edwards, E.S. Nielsen ( ANIC) GoogleMaps   ; 2♀, Moir Rock , 42 km NNW Salmon Gums, 3239’ S 12125 View Materials ’E, 1.i.1986, 3.i.1987, G. & A. Daniels ( QMB)   ; 1Ƌ, Boulder Rock , 18 km E Kelmscott, 3207’ S 11609 View Materials ’E, 15.i.1986, G. & A. Daniels ( QMB)   ; 15Ƌ, 2♀, Abyssinia Rock , 12 km S Mt Dale, 3214’06.5” S 11617 View Materials ’29.4”E, 5.i.2013, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 2Ƌ, Abyssinia Rock , 3214’03.0” S 11617 View Materials ’29.6”E, 5.i.2016, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 16Ƌ, 2♀, Albany HWY, Sullivan Rock, 3222’35.8” S 11615 View Materials ’12.8”E, 15.i.2011 (1Ƌ), 16.i.2011 (5Ƌ, 1♀), 2.i.2012 (3Ƌ), 4.i.2012 (6Ƌ, 1♀) A.A.E. Williams ( WAM, CAK)   ; 16Ƌ, 1♀, Sullivan Rock , 3222’37.8” S 11615 View Materials ’10.6”E, 10.i.2012 (5Ƌ), 16.i.2012 (8Ƌ), 1.i.2013 (3Ƌ, 1♀), A.A.E. Williams ( WAM, CAK)   ; 1Ƌ, 1♀, Sullivan Rock , 3222’36.0” S 11615 View Materials ’13.0”E, 30.xii.2015, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM, CAK)   ; 4Ƌ, Sullivan Rock , 3222’41” S 11615 View Materials ’06”E, 13.i.2017, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM, CAK)   ; 19Ƌ, 6♀, Blue Rock , 5 km ENE Jarrahdale, 3219’42.0” S 11606 View Materials ’54.8”E, 9.i.2012 (11Ƌ, 6♀), 10.i.2012 (5Ƌ), 8.i.2013 (3Ƌ), A.A.E. Wi-liams ( WAM)   ; 4Ƌ, Blue Rock , 3219’40.0” S 11606 View Materials ’53.4”E, 14.i.2015, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 2Ƌ, 4♀, Blue Rock , 3219’41” S 11606 View Materials ’50”E, 8.i.2015, E. Friedrich ( CEF and coll. K. Gottschaldt)   ; 1♀, Blue Rock , 3219’40” S 11606 View Materials ’51”E, 13.i.2017, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 2Ƌ, 1♀, Brookton HWY, Boulder Rock, 3207’58” S 11610 View Materials ’04”E, 5.i.2019, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 1♀, 1Ƌ, Cramphorne Rd , 64 km S Southern Cross, 3148’25.1” S 11917 View Materials ’07.7”E, 14.i.2016, 3148’21.6” S 11917 View Materials ’05.7”E, 27.i.2016, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM, CAK)   ; 1♀, Dulyalbin Rock , 50 km SW Southern Cross, 3134’10.0” S 11859 View Materials ’42.0”E, 13.i.2016, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 3♀, 8Ƌ, Kukerin , 3311.343’S 11805.389’E, 13.i.2010 (2♀, 5Ƌ), 14.i.2010 (1♀, 3Ƌ,), A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 2Ƌ, Kukerin Bushland , 3311’14.8” S 11805 View Materials ’21.6”E, 10.i.2015, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 2♀, Large Granite Rock , 6 km E Jarrahdale, 3220’06.5” S 11607 View Materials ’50.1”E, 9.i.2012 (1♀), 16.i.2012 (1♀), A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 1Ƌ, Nulla Nulla Rd , 72 km SSW Southern Cross, 3149’33.3” S 11901 View Materials ’05.9”E, 27.i.2016, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 1Ƌ, Peak Charles N.P., 3251’11.8” S 12110 View Materials ’31.4”E, 8.i.2011, A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 3♀, 26Ƌ, Serpentine N.P., 2.8 km NW Jarrahdale , 3219’06.0” S 11602 View Materials ’36.8”E, 2.i.2012 (1♀, 12Ƌ), 4.i.2012 (1♀, 12Ƌ), 12.i.2013 (1♀, 2Ƌ), 3219’06” S 11602 View Materials ’37”E, 1.i.2019 (7Ƌ) A.A.E. Williams ( WAM)   ; 1♀, ‘ Murchison distr. W.A., Elder Exp., Feb 1892, R. Helms’ ( SAMA)   .

Excluded from type series. 1Ƌ, Perth, ix.1916, N.B. Tindale ( SAMA)   ; 1Ƌ, Ravenswood, J.F. Angel ( SAMA)   ; 1Ƌ, Cunderin ( SAMA)   .

Etymology. The species’ name is derived from the Latin petra (rock) and the Greek philia (love) and relates to the frequent habitat of this species, large granite boulders with their hostplants growing around the fringe.

Description. Male ( Figs 53, 54 View FIGURES 49–56 ). Alar expanse 39–52 mm, forewing length 18–24 mm, body length 18–22 mm. Head, vertex with dark grey lamellar scales, frons with projecting lamellar scales dark grey, labial palpi fairly short, appressed to head not reaching frons, white, haustellum present, coiled, moderately developed, antenna black narrowly annulated with white scales, distal few flagellomeres black above and mostly white beneath, club black above, white proximally beneath, expanding abruptly, nudum 11 orange brown on anterior third of club often with scattered white scales, apiculus scaled short narrow. Thorax robust, above dark grey, of mixed piliform and broad lamellar scales, lateral tuft of long grey scales present, beneath white, legs grey above, pale grey beneath, epiphysis clothed in short spines, bluntly pointed at tip, terminating short of end of foretibia.Abdomen stout, dark grey above, T2, T3 with numerous long grey scales, beneath white or pale grey, with orange scales laterally and orange scales near tip.

Forewing costa slightly arched at base, straight, apex rounded, termen rounded, and slightly angled inwards, inner margin almost straight. Upperside very dark grey with markings of black and white, entire wing with scattered pale blue scales; basal third of wing dark grey, an oblique indistinct median black band from base of CuA1 to 1A+2A, narrowing and sharply angled outwards posteriorly, a large ill-defined white mark at end of cell, a broad dark grey patch at two thirds costa and extending from costa to CuA1, a band of ill-defined white subapical spots from R2 to M3, an indistinct submarginal band of joined black spots between M2 and 1A+2A, beyond this a grey area with extensive pale grey scaling and some white running to a very indistinct black band which extends from half way along M3 to tornus, margin dark grey. Cilia dark grey. Underside black with white and orange-red markings; basal half black with orange scales in basal half of cell, an orange-red median band from costa to inner margin, proximal edge displaced at CuA1, paler in centre of band with white patches in centre, a broad orange-red subapical band from R2 to M3, centre broadly white, a submarginal band of discrete orange-red spots between the veins from apex to inner margin, anterior few spots pale grey, fusing with subapical band between M2 and M3, the submarginal band may be absent, apical area grey merging to black along the termen to tornus, a terminal black line. Cilia dark grey.

Hindwing termen evenly rounded, slightly flattened in tornal area. Upperside black with orange-red spots; large orange-red spot at distal end of cell, a median broad orange-red broken band extending from Rs to 1A+2A, broken between M1 and M2, outer margin slightly indistinct, a submarginal band of orange-red spots from M2 to 1A+2A, usually with the orange-red spot from M2 to M3 small or obsolete, sometimes all submarginal band missing, anal area grey basally and with a tornal orange-red spot sometimes joining the median orange-red band. Cilia black, orange from Sc+R1 to M2 and some orange at tornus.

Underside black mostly obscured by orange-red spots; basal half of wing black, obscured by orange-red scales proximally, an orange spot at distal end of cell with white centre, a broad median band of orange-red from Sc+R1 to 1A+2A with white centres, broken at M3, sometimes running into submarginal row of spots, a submarginal row of orange-red spots from Sc+R1 to 1A+2A, spots anterior to M3 small and pale grey, a narrow black terminal line, anal area broadly orange-red. Cilia dark grey, orange from Sc+R1 to M3, orange-red at tornus.

Female ( Figs 55, 56 View FIGURES 49–56 ). Alar expanse 50–62 mm. Similar to male, larger, forewings slightly narrower, coloration similar to male, but anal area on upperside of hindwing extensively orange-red. Hindwing with orange-red spots usually more extensive than in male, occasionally with spot from Rs to M1 with white centre. Underside similar to male but sometimes with orange-red colouring more extensive. Abdomen with more extensive pale orange-brown scaling.

Male genitalia ( Fig. 62 View FIGURES 61–63 ). Uncus short and wide, ending in a blunt tip, with short setae; gnathos arms with sclerotisations beside anal tube; tegumen broad; valva broad, compact and almost quadrangular, with prominent upturned spine at tip, with numerous short setae; phallus moderately long, well sclerotized, broad and broadening anteriorly, strongly and evenly curved, apically pointed, anteriorly with phallobase slightly recurved; ductus ejaculatorius longer than phallus, with numerous coils.

Female genitalia ( Fig. 65 View FIGURES 64–67 ). Papillae anales short, pointed, sclerotized; ovipositor long, narrow, extensible, numerous fine setae near base; apophyses long, heavily sclerotized, apophyses anteriores about half length of apophyses posteriores which extend from the tip of the papillae; sinus vaginalis with some sclerotized thickening; ostium bursae at posterior edge of S7; ductus seminalis from shortly before ostium; ductus bursae long narrow coiled; corpus bursae relatively large, ovoid, with numerous folds, and with a bilobed scobinate signum.

Diagnosis. Synemon petrophila   sp. n. is one of the largest Australian sun-moths. It belongs to the S. magnifica   group of species. Compared to other species in this group, the forewing is less distinctly patterned, appearing somewhat blurred and the median orange-red band in the hindwing is separated by a black bar between M1 and M2. Occasionally, specimens are difficult to separate from S. semaphora   sp. n. However, S. petrophila   sp. n. is usually larger and differs by its narrower and more elongated forewings, the less extensive whitish markings (typically with wide light medial bands on forewings in S. semaphora   sp. n., often reduced to a white discal spot and a row of white subapical spots in S. petrophila   sp. n.), the duller orange of the hindwings, the subterminal row of well-isolated orange spots in the hindwing (usually confluent in S. semaphora   sp. n.), forewing underside with black basal portion extending into a distal projection (absent in S. semaphora   sp. n.) and without a silvery white strip along the outer dorsum where the forewing and hindwing overlap (dark in S. semaphora   sp. n.). The valva is broad, compact and almost quadrangular; the corpus bursae is relatively large, ovoid, with numerous folds (simple in S. semaphora   sp. n.), the ovipositor tip is blunted, with relatively long setae (more pointed and with shorter setae in S. semaphora   sp. n.).

Variation. There is substantial variation in the extent of the light grey to white coloured marks on the forewing.

Distribution. Synemon petrophila   sp. n. has a wide, but disjunct, distribution across south-western Western Australia. The first specimen was collected in the Murchison district during the Elder Expedition in 1892. A precise locality was not recorded for this northernmost record. Since then S. petrophila   sp. n. has only been found further south: from the Darling Scarp and forest sites inland of Perth, from the Wheatbelt near Southern Cross, from Kukerin bushland and Nyabing bushland, and further east from Peak Charles National Park, Moir Rock, and Jimberlana Hill near Norseman (Williams et al. 2016).

Habitat and Biology ( Figs 72–76 View FIGURES 68–72 View FIGURES 73–76 ). This species flies primarily in January with a flying period of approximate-ly two weeks (Williams et al. 2016). S. petrophila   sp. n. is found in differing habitats, dependent upon the location of the sedges on which the larvae feed. Near Perth, it is found on granite rocky outcrops, both within the Jarrah ( Eucalyptus marginata   ) forest and on the edge of the Darling Scarp. There, the larval food plant, a large unidentified species of Lepidosperma   sedge ( Cyperaceae   ) with viscous leaf bases, grows at the base of the rocks or in drainage channels on the rocks where sufficient soil has accumulated to support it. In the central and southern Wheatbelt and at Peak Charles National Park, this species is found in mallee woodland, where the large Sticky Sword Sedge Lepidosperma sanguinolentum K.L. Wilson   is a dominant component of the understory. At Jimberlana Hill, the larval food plant is a shiny-leafed undescribed species of Lepidosperma   sedge that is widespread and dominant on the granitic gneiss rocky hillslopes (Greg Keighery, pers. comm. 2018). In mallee woodland sites in the Wheatbelt, males fly openly amongst the large sedge food plants; the females are less frequently seen. On the granite outcrops of the Darling Scarp males establish territories on hilltops if the larval food plant sedge is growing nearby. On the upper slopes of Jimberlana Hill the males course widely over the large expanses of available sedge food plant. On very hot days adults rest on the cooler, shaded side of burnt upright mallee stags slowly rotating as the sun moves to maintain their shaded position (E.D. Edwards, pers. obs.; Williams et al. 2016).

Remarks. This species was referred to as Synemon   sp. ‘Moirs Rock’, the Royal Sun-moth, by Williams et al. (2016).


Australian National Insect Collection


Western Australian Museum


Queensland Museum, Brisbane


South Australia Museum