The Notodontidae are a family that has proved very popular with amateur
entomologists over the past two centuries. The species are mostly moderate to
large in size with biologically cryptic but aesthetically pleasing wing
patterns. The wings, especially the forewings, are usually long and relatively
narrow, as is the abdomen. The wing scaling is often coarse and the patterning
never very crisply defined; the body and legs are usually clothed densely with
longer scales giving the whole insect a rather shaggy appearance.
In collections specimens are prone to become greasy, suggesting a high
fat content in the adult moth. In this they resemble the Cossidae and, to a
lesser extent, the Lymantriidae.
The larvae are often highly modified into bizarre shapes, again
primarily cryptic, but often with additional aggressive defences such as
protrusible lashes on modified anal claspers.
There are 122 species known at present from Borneo, a fauna not as rich
as that of Sumatra or the north-eastern reaches of the Himalayan ranges in
Sikkim and Assam, but over twice as rich as that of Australia (about 50 species
listed by Kiriakoff (1968)) and richer than that of Japan (about 105 species
listed by Inoue (1956)). New Guinea has a fauna of about 100 species (Kiriakoff
1968) but a major portion of these are drawn from the predominantly endemic
genera Omichlis Hampson and Cascera Walker, as well as from the
largely montane genus Quadricalcarifera Strand. The Bornean species are
here assigned to 65 genera. There are 16 endemic species.
The majority of species are virtually restricted to the lowlands but 22
range from the lowlands to about 2000 m and 29 are probably exclusively montane.
Twenty five new taxa, mostly species, are described. Past taxonomic work
on the Oriental Notodontidae has often been rather superficial or careless so a
considerable amount of revisional work involving synonymy and new combinations
has had to be undertaken to try and introduce some stability into the
nomenclature. A very high proportion of the type specimens involved are found in
the British Museum (Natural History) and others have been studied on loan from
the various Institutions listed in the Acknowledgements.
The taxonomic work involved the preparation of almost 300 slides of
male, and sometimes female, genitalia. The male genitalia of all Bornean species
are illustrated either here or by Holloway (1976, 1982).
Information on life histories and host-plants is very sparse for the
Indo-Australian tropics and an attempt has been made here to collate what is
available. Nevertheless, some interesting, possibly coevolutionary relationships
between host plants and genera or groups of genera are already evident.