Morphology of the preimaginal stages of the African emperor moth Bunaeopsis licharbas (Maassen and Weyding): Phylogenetically informative characters within the Saturniinae (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae)


  • Rodolphe Rougerie,

    Corresponding author
    1. Département Systématique et Evolution, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, USM 602, CP 50, F-75231 Paris, France
    2. Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1
    • Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1
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  • Yves Estradel

    1. 494, rue du Canteloup, F-31810 Le Vernet, France
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The current classification of African representatives of the family Saturniidae is largely unsatisfactory and needs to be revised following a proper and rigorous phylogenetic analysis. In this regard, the use of characters of preimaginal stages in phylogeny reconstruction was already emphasized in the literature; however, few details are known about the morphology of the eggs, larvae, and pupae of these moths. To fill this gap and to provide a preliminary basis for further phylogenetic studies, the early stages of Bunaeopsis licharbas, a member of the tribe Bunaeini within the Saturniinae, are described. Egg chorionic ultrastructure, chaetotaxy of the larva in every instar, and morphology of the pupa are described and illustrated. A total of 22 previously overlooked characters was found and their potential phylogenetic significance is discussed in the light of a comparative study which includes a large set of representatives of all five tribes in the subfamily. Until further phylogenetic analyses, some characters are considered to be potential synapomorphies supporting, in particular, the monophyly of the tribe Bunaeini, the close relationship between this tribe and part of the Urotini, as well as the existence of an Afrotropical lineage within the Saturniinae uniting the tribes Bunaeini, Urotini, and Micragonini. In a group of moths whose preimaginal instars are among the best known within the Lepidoptera, the unexpected, and relatively high number of potentially informative characters found by the present study stresses the value of minute and exhaustive descriptive studies to make use of morphological characters available for phylogenetic studies. J. Morphol., 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.