Coeliades ramanatek ramanatek (Boisduval, 1883)

Collins, Steve C., 2017, Observations on the biology of Afrotropical Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera). Part 12. New information and corrections, Zootaxa 4312 (3), pp. 471-496 : 475-477

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Coeliades ramanatek ramanatek (Boisduval, 1883)


Coeliades ramanatek ramanatek (Boisduval, 1883)

TCEC and SCC found early stages of this species commonly on a large-leaved Trema sp. ( Cannabaceae ) at Ranomafana, east central Madagascar at the end of March 2013. Alain Gauthier (pers. comm. 2015) found it on Trema orientalis at Andasibe and La Mandraka in May 2015 and David C. Lees (pers. comm. 2017) has found it on the same food plant at Analamay (west of Mantady) and Saha, Anjozorobe Forest. Two species of Trema occur in Madagascar (Madagascar Catalogue 2013): the widespread T. orientalis and the endemic T. humbertii , which is restricted to central and south-west of Madagascar ( Leroy 1952). Accordingly, the food plant at Ranomafana could be either species.

The penultimate instar caterpillar is black with white and yellow markings ( Figure 5 View FIGURE 5 ). Head black, matt, rugose. Pronotum black with a white transverse band, interrupted dorsally. Body black with narrow white subdorsal line T2– A 8; stronger yellow dorsolateral line, interrupted T2 A 1, thicker and continuous A 2 A 8; large yellow spot laterally in anterior half of A 3 and A 5, similar but smaller spot on A 1; a short yellow bar extending from dorsolateral line on posterior margin of A 8; 3–4 transverse rows of pale dots in posterior half of A 1 A 6; yellow and white lateral line, thick and yellow T1–T2, thin and white T3, white with a yellow section in middle of segment, A 1 A 8; ventrolateral white line.

The final instar is a more heavily marked version of the penultimate instar with a red-brown head ( Figure 6 View FIGURE 6 ). Head red-brown, matt, rugose; diffuse dark line each side of epicranial suture, extending indistinctly adjacent to adfrontal suture. Pronotum black, with anterior and posterior margin narrowly white; T1 laterally yellow in line with lateral yellow and white line of body. Body dark, but not black; scattered short, pale, inconspicuous setae; subdorsal white line T2– A 8; thick, yellow dorsolateral line T2 A 8, pale yellow towards posterior margin of each segment, pale yellow A 8, diverging towards posterior margin; a short white bar extends laterally from dorsolateral line, near posterior margin of T2 A 2 and on posterior margin A 8; three lateral rows of white dots adjacent to the posterior margin of A 1 A 6, the most anterior of which on T3 A 2 are in line with the white bar just mentioned; conspicuous yellow spots in anterior half of A 1, A 3 A 5 and A 7, those of A 3 and A 5 being significantly larger; a thick yellow and pale yellow lateral line; a thick white ventrolateral line, the area between this and the lateral line speckled white; anal plate unmarked; legs brown; prolegs white-brown; spiracles brown, in lateral line.

The pupa is light brown, almost completely covered with a uniform layer of white wax, interrupted with scattered bare dots on abdomen; short, blunt, black, upturned, frontal spike; prominently protruding black T1 spiracles, and a dark dot slightly dorsal to these; other spiracles black, conspicuous; inconspicuous, erect, pale setae dorsally on thorax. The pupa is attached at the cremaster and supported by a Y-shaped silk girdle. The posterior margin of A4 and anterior margin of A5 are curiously striated dorsally; we have not noticed such a pattern before and have no evidence to suggest what function it may have.

These caterpillar descriptions and figures of C. ramanatek ramanatek are very different to those in Cock (2010b) based on blown caterpillars of C. ramanatek comorana Evans in the BMNH. So much so, that we suggest either these two subspecies are two different species with very different caterpillars, or there is additional cryptic diversity within the species, or the material in the BMNH is misidentified. If caterpillars of C. ramanatek comorana can be found and documented, this should help to clarify the position. SCC and Ivan Bampton found this subspecies on a Trema sp. at LaGrille, Grande Comoro in 1991 but it was not documented. Alain Gauthier (pers. comm. 2015) has searched on T. orientalis in the Comoros Islands and found an empty pupa, almost certainly of C. ramanatek comorana . The caterpillars of C. ramanatek ramanatek do not show any close affinities with any other species of Coeliades , suggesting that it is has no close relatives, rather than that it is the Madagascan replacement for C. libeon (Druce) below, as suggested by Chiba (2009).