Les Noctuelles : classification et clé de détermination des familles (Lepidoptera : Noctuoidea)
Owlet moths: classification and key to families (Lepidoptera: Noctuoidea). In recent years, various authors have proposed significant, though often debatable, changes to the classification of the quadrifid Noctuoidea (Owlet moths and their relatives, i. e. Noctuidae sensu lato). Research work in molecular phylogeny (especially by Reza ZAHIRI) led in 2011 and 2012 to a four-family system for this group (Euteliidae, Erebidae, Nolidae and Noctuidae). Although they are indisputably monophyletic, these four families are very difficult to characterize morphologically, unlike the Noctuidae sensu lato, which share at least two obvious imaginal synapomorphies: the “quadrifid” forewing venation and a less known trait, viz. the presence of a transverse (oftenweakly pigmented) sclerite in the pleural region of segment A1, caudad of the tympanal hood + spiracle area (this sclerite, of marginotergal origin, exists in neither the Oenosandridae, nor the notodontid ground-plan). Nevertheless, we tentatively adopt the four recently recognized families and propose to characterize them with the help of a deliberately long dichotomous key (taking account of known exceptions for many imaginal characters). We have not found any imaginal autapomorphy to define Nolidae, a family that was slightly broadened recently with the addition of the Diphtherinae. By contrast, we interpret a metathoracic trait as a synapomorphy of the Beaninae, Eligminae, Westermanniinae, Nolinae, and Chloephorinae (= Eariadinae): the posterior arm of the subalare is broad and has parallel/subparallel edges (which are sometimes slightly concave). In most Erebidae, this posterior arm is narrow (and usually long) but possesses, along the base of the alula, a weakly sclerotized dorsal flange that is at an angle to the surface of the arm proper (or to the nearly adjacent conjunctiva). This dorsal flange probably constitutes an autapomorphy of the Erebidae, although it seems to be absent in the Rivulinae and the Hypenodinae. Two further potential autapomorphies of the Erebidae are the loss of a muscle in the male genitalia (“m2” in Russian nomenclature) and the presence of long, conspicuous sensilla chaetica on the male antennae (apomorphy absent in many taxa, perhaps due to secondary loss). Since the recently resurrected subfamily Dyopsinae may be the most primitive member of the Noctuidae, some of the traits that had been regarded as noctuid autapomorphies must be reinterpreted and removed from the ground plan of this family, in particular the “adjacent” counter-tympanal cavities (sometimes called bullae), which are in fact remote from each other in certain members of the Dyopsinae (Arcte coerula for example). Two apomorphies of the male genitalia, which are commonplace in Noctuidae, are interpreted as noctuid autapomorphies, especially since they do not occur in the basal lineages of the other three families. The first of these is the membranous area, or gap, that separates the ventral region of the tegumen from the “pleurite” (an anterodorsal extension of the vinculum) when seen in lateral view. The second is a well indicated dorsal notch in the median or subdistal region of the sacculus, some distance before the ampulla or the harpe. A tree is proposed to summarize the phylogenetic relationships (between subfamilies) that seem well supported within the family Erebidae. A similar tree is provided for the Noctuidae. A number of genera are transferred from one family to another: Acanthodica, previously in the Catocalinae (i. e. Erebinae), is assigned to the Nolidae-Collomeninae; Litoprosopus (recently placed in the Eulepidotinae) and Desmoloma (up to now placed in the Lymantriidae [Lymantriinae]) are transferred to the Noctuidae-Dyopsinae; Closteromorpha, Drobeta and Orotermes are transferred from the Nolidae to the Noctuidae-Bagisarinae. A new, monotypic tribe is defined for Acanthodica, which differs from the other collomenine genera in the appearance of the metascutum, shape of the tympanal frame, and structure of the uncus. Tyta, Chytonix and Argyrosticta are placed, respectively, in the Aediinae, Bryophilinae and Eriopinae, a systematic position in agreement with larval food specializations.