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Amerila Walker (Rhodogastria auctorum)

Type species: astreus Drury.

Synonyms: Canopus Walker (praeocc; type species bubo Walker, Zaire);

Phryganeomorpha Wallengren (type species madagascariensis Boisduval); Amblythyris Mabille (type species radama Mabille = madagascariensis).

This is a diverse Old World tropical genus with distinctive facies, such as the shape of the forewing marginal zone, the reduced hindwings, with, in the male, modified scales along the rather produced tornus. The general coloration is white, pale pinkish brown or dark brown, with areas of pink on the abdomen and the legs, darker species tending to be more variegated on the same pattern theme as pale ones. The antennae have more segments (80) than other Oriental Arctiinae, resembling the S. American Phaegopterini to which the genus may have affinities (Kiriakoff, 1950; A. Watson, pers. comm.). The antennae of both sexes are filiform, finely ciliate.

The species, when alarmed, produce acrid smelling yellow froth from cervical glands at the anterior of the thorax.

The form of the genitalia of both sexes and the lack of dorsal sac-like organs associated with the ovipositor lobes indicate that this genus is not closely related to other Sundanian Arctiinae. The male has a broad, rather rounded valve with a central hook-like process interiorly and a massive corema exteriorly; the uncus is small; the juxta is divided into a dorsal plate and a ventral pocket; the aedeagus has a large, tubular vesica, with several distal diverticula, one of which is scobinate and bears two large cornuti. The female has the basal half of the ductus bursae broadly sclerotised; the bursa is irregular, corrugated, with a row of spines, often broken into separate sections, associated with a spiral pleat.

Species in this genus have habitually been referred to Rhodogastria Hübner, based on the S. African amasis Cramer, a species with affinities to the Spilosoma group (A. Watson, pers. comm.) and remote from Amerila.

Host-plants for the genus have been recorded from several plant families: Apocynaceae, Asclepiadaceae, Dioscoreaceae, Myrtaceae, Rubiaceae, Smilacaceae perhaps with some preference for Apocynaceae (Pinhey, 1975; also below); some species may be polyphagous.

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