Archivos de diario de diciembre 2023

06 de diciembre de 2023

Some Overlooked Tripudia Moths in Mexico

[An English version of this article follows the Spanish version, below.]

Resumen: Druce describió dos nuevas especies similares en el género Thalpochares en Biología Centrali-Americana en 1910: T. hirasa y T. idicra. Más recientemente, las dos especies han sido incluidas en el género Tripudia. Las especies parecen no haber sido reconocidas en el campo durante más de un siglo. Recientemente identifiqué varios ejemplos de las dos especies entre las observaciones de iNaturalist del oeste y sur de México.

Varias especies del género Noctuid Tripudia tienen cada una algún tipo de mancha dorsal rectangular o redondeado de color marrón oscuro en las alas anteriores. Los más extendidos y llamativos son la Tripudia quadrifera y Tripudia rectangula. Herbert Druce describió dos especies relacionadas con estas en el género Thalpochares en la Biología Centrali-Americana en 1910 (Vol. I, p. 314; Vol. III, pl. 29, figs. 15, 16): T. hirasa y T. idicra. Autores posteriores (Hampson, Draudt, etc.) las enumeraron en el género relacionado Cobubatha, pero más recientemente, las dos especies se trasladaron a Tripudia (FUNET).
Thalpochares hirasa BCA III pl29 fig16 Thalpochares idicra BCA III pl29 fig15

Recientemente estaba tratando de ponerle un nombre a una polilla Tripudia no identificada de Sinaloa, México (publicada por @sinaloasilvestre), y noté la similitud con la distintiva "Thalpochares hirasa" de Druce:

Tripudia hirasa: Veranos, Sinaloa, México, Copyright @sinaloasilvestre
Posteriormente, encontré al menos otros ocho registros de esta polilla entre observaciones mexicanas que se remontan a 2017. Los registros provienen en su mayoría de Sinaloa, pero hay al menos un registro de Nayarit y otro registro probable de Baja California Sur. No he podido encontrar otras ilustraciones de esta especie ni otras imágenes en línea. Tripudia hirasa se puede reconocer por la mancha dorsal curva o en forma de maza, delineada de forma estrecha en blanco. La mancha se estrecha considerablemente en el lado distal en el margen interno del ala anterior, lo que le da a la mancha una forma general arqueada o de gancho.

En el curso de la búsqueda de más ejemplos de Tripudia hirasa en imágenes de iNat, noté un conjunto diferente de observaciones de México que coincidían con la descripción e ilustración de Druce en la BCA de "Thalpochares" [= Tripudia] idicra (misma página y enlaces de placas que arriba), y posteriormente encontró un total de siete observaciones que parecen coincidir con esa especie.

Tripudia idicra: cerca de Veranos, Sinaloa, México, Copyright @sinaloasilvestre
Otra vez, no puedo encontrar otras ilustraciones de T. idicra ni ninguna otra imagen en línea. Tripudia idicra aparentemente se distingue de T. hirasa por una mancha dorsal con márgenes blancos que es más grande y más redondeada, que se une ampliamente al margen interno del ala anterior, que no se estrecha como en T. hirasa. T. idicra suele tener un color marrón mucho más oscuro en el área posmediano más allá de la mancha dorsal; este área es generalmente de color marrón cremoso más pálido en T. hirasa. Hay otras diferencias menores en el patrón. Observaciones en iNaturalista de T. idicra son de los estados de Sinaloa, Nayarit y Guerrero, con otros registros en El Salvador y Costa Rica.

Summary: Druce described two similar new species in the genus Thalpochares in the Biologia Centrali-Americana in 1910: T. hirasa and T. idicra. Most recently, the two species have been placed in the genus Tripudia. The species seem to have gone unrecognized in the field for over a century. I recently identified several examples of the two species among iNaturalist observations from western and southern Mexico.

Several species of the Noctuid genus Tripudia each have some type of rectangular or rounded dark brown dorsal patch on the forewings. The most widespread and conspicuous of these are the Harp-winged Tripudia and Rectangular Tripudia. Two species related to these were described in the genus Thalpochares by Herbert Druce in the Biologia Centrali-Americana in 1910 (Vol. I, p. 314; Vol. III, pl. 29, figs. 15, 16): T. hirasa and T. idicra. Later authors (Hampson, Draudt, etc.) listed these in the related genus Cobubatha, but most recently, the two species have been moved to Tripudia (FUNET). [See original images from BCA, above.]

Recently I was trying to put a name to an unidentified Tripudia moth from Sinaloa, Mexico (posted by @sinaloasilvestre), and noted the similarity to Druce's distinctive "Thalpochares" hirasa. [See image above.] Subsequently, I found at least eight other records of this moth among Mexican observations going back to 2017. The records mostly come from Sinaloa, but there is at least one record from Nayarit and another probable record from the Baja California Sur. I have been unable to find any other illustrations of this species or other online images. Tripudia hirasa can be recognized by the curved or club-shaped dorsal patch which is narrowly outlined with white. The patch narrows considerably on the distal side at the forewing inner margin, giving the patch an overall arched or hook shape.

In the course of searching through iNat images for more examples of Tripudia hirasa, I noted a different set of observations from Mexico which matched Druce's description and illustration in the BCA of "Thalpochares" [= Tripudia] idicra (same page and plate links as above), and subsequently found a total of seven observations which seem to match that species. [See image above.] Again, I am unable to find any other illustrations of T. idicra nor any other online images. Tripudia idicra is apparently distinguished from T. hirasa by a white-margined dorsal patch which is larger and more rounded, meeting the forewing inner margin broadly, not indented as in T. hirasa. T. idicra usually has much more dark brown color in the postmedian area beyond the dorsal patch; this area is generally paler creamy-brown color in T. hirasa. There are other minor differences in pattern. iNaturalist observations of T. idicra are from the states of Sinaloa, Nayarit, and Guerrero, with other records in El Salvador and Costa Rica.

Publicado el diciembre 6, 2023 07:21 TARDE por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 11 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de diciembre de 2023

Reflections on My 10-year iNat-iversary.

Gee, I ought to get outdoors more...

My health suffers because of iNaturalist. I spend far too much time at the computer and snack on too much junk food as I try to identify obscure moths for other people. The hours of screen time by day leave me with that visual/biochemical hangover at bedtime that all the doctors have warned us about. I lay awake at night in bed, worrying why I can't identify that fungus gnat that seems so distinctive to me. But I'm up the next day, composing an iNat journal post that will thrill about three people around the World, yet tearing my hair out trying to get the formatting to work, or worrying that my Spanish grammar in the brief resumen will make me look estúpido.

Who will be the next person to block me? or disagree with one of my identifications? or, worst of all, properly correct one of my erroneous IDs? I will be humiliated. No one will like me. I will have alienated 2.9 million other human beings scattered around the globe. I won't be able to show my face anywhere....

Wait a minute! Outdoors! I can go out-of-doors! Into Nature! I won't have to interact with my own species for a time. I can recharge my mental batteries. My lithium batteries are all charged up and I only have to open the door and step out.

Ah, the Fresh Air! The sounds of Nature! What a beautiful trail I'm on. There's birds--and I know all of their sounds--and butterflies--and I can name them all--and beautiful flowers and plants--the entire ecology of which I can expound upon at myself, under my breath. And there's a moth, but it flies away too quickly. "I'll see you at the moth sheet tonight, my friend!" And look at this fancy lichen on the oak branch; I can put a name to this one! And that mushroom over there--I know someone who can help me ID that--and the same for that hoverfly on that daisy, and I think I remember the family name for this creepy little millipede under the log.

Uh, Oops! Aaaagh! I've slipped on the leaf litter and fallen and broken my wrist! Oh, the pain...the agony! The frustration...the hassle...the expenses! At least I broke my wrist in a lovely location. And I was smart enough to break my off-hand, my left. I'm well reminded that the outdoors is a dangerous place!

Boy, will I be glad to get back to my computer and rejoin my Community. Safe, secure, accepted. Nature is so

Publicado el diciembre 7, 2023 05:28 TARDE por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 3 observaciones | 30 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de diciembre de 2023

Schwarz’s Lichen Moth Elevated to Species Status

I just got my copy of the brand new Pohl & Nanz “Annotated Taxonomic Checklist of the Lepidoptera of North America, North of Mexico” (Wedge Entomol. Res. Foundation, 2023). In it (p. 339), I see that Schwarz's Lichen Moth, Cisthene schwarziorum, has been elevated to species status (revised status) and is no longer considered a “western subspecies” of the Thin-banded Lichen Moth (C. tenuifascia). In that listing, Chris Schmidt (@neoarctia), author of the family Erebidae in the Checklist, does not cite references for the change, only mentioning that it is “based on differences in DNA and genitalic morphology”. This status change has been long anticipated. I previously addressed the identification of schwarziorum in field images in one of my Cisthene ID journal posts six years ago:

Schwarziorum was originally described as a full species by Dyar in 1899 but his schwarziorum was based on two specimens, one from Arizona and another from Vera Cruz, Mexico. The latter specimen has subsequently been determined to be the Tamaulipan Lichen Moth (C. subrufa, det. by Knowlton, 1967). Knowlton’s revision of the genus (1967, p. 70) placed Dyar’s Arizona schwarziorum as a synonym of tenuifascia, but provided only minimal details on that population. There is much variation in the color patterns of each species but below are the basic details of how to separate the two species in photos:

Cisthene schwarziorum (Dyar, 1899)
Cisthene schwarziorum, Graham Co., AZ; 22 Aug 2022; ph. C. Sexton

Cisthene tenuifascia Harvey, 1875
Cisthene tenuifascia, Mills Co., TX; 5 Oct 2019; ph. C. Sexton

Recognizing Schwarz’s Lichen Moth is fairly apparent in Arizona but trickier elsewhere. A large collection of images on iNat from Arizona correspond to the typical schwarziorum pattern with a complete, relatively broad yellowish PM band, an elliptic basal yellow patch which usually does not quite reach the PM band on the inner margin, and a ground color which is quite blackish. The color patches are usually pale to deep yellow but many examples are much oranger; these may represent fresher specimens:
Presently, another set of 80+ images in Arizona on iNat currently listed at species level as “Thin-banded” all appear to refer to proper Schwarz’s Lichen Moth and will need to be addressed individually:
As currently conceived, true Thin-banded Lichen Moth is not known to occur in Arizona.

In New Mexico, not unexpectedly from a biogeographical standpoint, a small number of observations in the s.w. part of the state appear to refer to Schwarz’s Lichen Moth, while a set of records from Albuquerque eastward (i.e. east of the Rio Grande) appear to be proper Thin-banded Lichen Moths:
I tentatively put the ID of schwarziorum on a single observation in Utah, but my confidence in that ID is marginal:

Two observations on iNat from Sonora, Mexico are similar to the Arizona set:
A disjunct set of observations in southern Mexico appear very similar to schwarziorum and deserve more detailed taxonomic study.

Publicado el diciembre 18, 2023 05:35 MAÑANA por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de diciembre de 2023

A Lichen Moth By Any Other Name

Resumen: La polilla del liquen Nyctochroa basiplaga (Erebidae: Arctiinae: Lithosiini) se encuentra desde México hasta Costa Rica. Al parecer ha sido catalogado, descrito e ilustrado con varios nombres diferentes desde su primer descubrimiento en el siglo XIX. Si todos estos se refieren a la misma polilla, puede haber hasta cinco nombres de especies diferentes asociados con la misma polilla. Aquí profundizo en la compleja historia de esta polilla. Se necesita una revisión taxonómica formal de todos estos taxones.

Take a close look at this image of a lichen moth from Oaxaca, Mexico, photographed by @juanmaguey in October 2019:

(full-size image:)
and then read on, if you dare:

In the course of researching the lichen moth genus Eudesmia, I got sidetracked for the past few days looking up old descriptions of some of the unknown and unrecognized lichen moth species (Erebidae: Arctiinae: Lithosiini) in various checklists. The lists on the FUNET site are particularly useful (Thank You, Markku Savela! See links at bottom of post). Not uncommonly, species described by authors in the 19th Century have bounced around in various genera over the succeeding 150 or so years, and lepidopterists of that era frequently named new species without a comprehensive review of previous taxa, creating numerous synonyms which needed to be sorted out later by subsequent generations of researchers. Such seems to be the case of a lichen moth originally named Nyctochroa basiplaga by Felder & Felder in 1874. That’s the earliest name I can find for a moth that seems to have been named and described anew over and over again. In their massive volumes documenting the “Voyage of the Frigate Novara”, Felder & Felder illustrated this species from Mexico (Vol. 2, pl. 106, fig. 27) and listed it in an index but did not describe it.
Nyctochroa basiplaga Felder 1868 [1874] Voyage pl 106 f 27 copy

Spoiler alert: I think ALL of the following names refer to this same moth which ranges from Mexico to Costa Rica. These are listed alphabetically, then in chronologic order by date of publication. The current generic placement of each species epithet is noted in bold font. [Note: Due to iNat's change of fonts in May 2024, the bold version of their new choice of fonts is not readily separable from the plain font. I'm assured they are working on a solution.]

abdulla Dyar, 1917 [genus Cisthene]
abdulla, Draudt, 1925 [genus Cisthene]
abdulla FUNET [genus Eucyclopera] (accessed 22 Dec 2023)
basiplaga Felder, 1874 [genus Nyctochroa; same on FUNET]
basiplaga, Druce, 1881 [genus Nyctochroa]
basiplaga, Hampson, 1920 [genus Cyanarctia]
carpintera Schaus, 1910 [genus Brycea]
carpintera Hampson, 1920 [genus Cyanarctia]
carpintera FUNET [genus Eucyclopera] (accessed 22 Dec 2023)
ira Druce, 1889 [genus Ptychoglene; also Druce in BCA]
ira Hampson, 1900 [genus Euryptidia]
ira Draudt, 1919 [genus Euryptidia]
ira Scott Chialvo et al, 2018 [genus Euryptidia]
ira NHM(UK) [genus Paratype; listed on FUNET] (accessed 22 Dec 2023)
lithosiaphila Dyar, 1910 [genus Hypomolis]

In 1889, Herbert Druce described a moth from Mexico essentially identical to that of the Felders' as Ptychoglene ira (Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (6)4:90), calling it a “very distinct species”, and illustrating it in the Biologia Centrali-Americana (BCA Lep-Het 2:398; 3: pl. 78, fig. 6).
Ptychoglene ira Druce BCA 3 78-6 edit copy
Curiously, also in the BCA (Lep-Het, I, p. 155, 1881), Druce had dutifully listed the Felders' Nyctochroa basiplaga but noted that it was “unknown to me.” In his 1900 Catalogue of the moths in the British Museum, Hampson moved ira into the genus Euryptidia, probably based on wing venation characters.

Perhaps unaware of the Felder volumes or the BCA (?), Harrison Dyar published a new species from Mexico in 1910, Hypomolis lithosiaphila (Proc. USNM 38:235, published on June 7, 1910). His description, although typically brief, is quite similar to the moths illustrated by Felder and Druce.

Complicating matters, just four months later in October 1910, unaware of Felder’s, Druce’s, or Dyar’s species, William Schaus described a “new” lichen moth Brycea carpintera (Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (8) 6 (34):406) from Costa Rica which is apparently identical to the earlier species.
This is a classic case of researchers in that era working at cross-purposes or quite ignorant of each others' efforts. [Historical sidenote: Schaus, a native New Yorker, spent much time in London as well as traveling in Central and South America collecting Lepidoptera. He later became associated with the U.S. National Museum in about 1919, working alongside Harrison Dyar. Their interesting and sometimes contentious relationship is chronicled by Marc Epstein in his biography of Dyar, "Moths, Myths, and Mosquitos", Oxford University Press, 2016.]

In 1917, Dyar named yet another lichen moth from Mexico, this time placing it in the genus Cisthene, as Cisthene abdulla (Insec. Inscit. Mens. 5(1-3):10), but once again the description is essentially identical to Felder’s basiplaga, Druce’s ira, Dyar’s own lithosiaphila, and Schaus’s carpintera. Dyar's placement of his new species in "Cisthene" followed Hampson's concept of the latter genus which now mainly refers to Eudesmia lichen moths (sensu lato; see Sexton 2022). Neither genus represents a satisfactory placement of abdulla (see Draudt's and Seitz's notes, below).

So by 1920 there were five names in five different genera for essentially the same type of lichen moth. The descriptions were almost identical word for word, and Felder’s and Druce’s images were similar enough to suggest that they were probably the same species, unless there was some interesting mimicry complex in play!

In his 1920 supplement to the Catalogue of Leps in the British Museum, Hampson rearranged some of these species at the genus level, placing them in the genus Cyanarctia, carrying C. carpintera forward as a valid species, but lumping Dyar’s lithosiaphila under Cyanarctia" basiplaga (Cat. Lep. Phal. Br. Mus. Suppl. 2:328-329). Hampson did not address Dyar’s Cisthene abdulla, probably because the British Museum had no specimens at hand. In moving Felder’s basiplaga to the genus Cyanarctia and lumping Dyar’s lithosiaphila with it, he confessed, like Druce, that the species was “unknown to me”, As a fallback choice, Hampson illustrated only the USNM type specimen of Dyar’s lithosiaphila. His illustration looks veeery familiar!
Cyanarctia basiplaga Hampson 1920 pl 57 f 12 copy

Draudt (in Seitz, "1913", Macrolepidoptera of the World, vol. 6, p. 467, and pl. 39 row l; published in a 1925 supplement entitled, "Additions: Lithosiinae") listed Cisthene abdulla Dyar, and added a note that "this insect [probably] coincides with Cyanarctia basiplaga = Hypomolis lithosiaphila." Later in that same "Additions" supplement, Seitz himself went on to (apparently) synonymize Cyanarctia basiplaga (Felder), lithosiaphila Dyar, Cisthene abdulla Dyar, and Cyanarctia carpintera (Schaus). This seems to leave only Ptychoglene/Euryptidia/Paratype ira out of the fold.
Cisthene abdulla Draudt 1925 pl 39 row l

This species—or this set of names—has not been addressed in detail in nearly a century. There has been a lot of recent research on the biochemistry and phylogenetics of Tiger and Lichen Moths, and even a comprehensive catalogue of a portion of the Neotropical Arctiinae, but none of these efforts have addressed the present set of named species in any useful manner. Scott Chialvo et al. (2018; in the online journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution) included Euryptidia ira in their molecular studies but did not include any of the other “species” mentioned above and came to no conclusions on the proper placement of ira in the grand scheme of things. To my knowledge, @juanmaguey's image (above) is the First Photograph of a Living Specimen of whatever species it is, although there are piles and piles of unidentified Tiger and Lichen Moths in Mexico and Central America. I wandered through them earlier today and did not find any other obvious candidates for this taxon.

So I’m just proposing that Seitz in his 1925 "Additions" was mostly correct, namely, that the several names, in several genera as listed above, all represent the same lichen moth. It will fall to researchers with access to museum specimens and all the modern tools of taxonomy to sort this all out and confirm or refute my guess.

Here are links to Markku Savela’s pages on FUNET for these various species, in the genera where they are currently listed:

Publicado el diciembre 23, 2023 10:38 TARDE por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario