Wednesday, June 12, 2024

[Entomology • 2024] Rondotia melanoleuca • A New wild-mulberry Silkworm (Lepidoptera: Bombycidae) from China

Rondotia melanoleuca
 Liu & Cao, 2024

Several yellow larvae with black spots were discovered in the wild of Chinese Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, and were further raised in captivity. Reared adults exhibit a striking black and white wing pattern, and they represent unequivocally a new species, here described as Rondotia melanoleuca sp. nov. Molecular analyses suggest that this species could be sister to all previously known species of Rondotia.

Rondotia melanoleuca sp. nov.
A, B. HT: ♂ A. Dorsal view; B. Fore- and hindwings, ventral view; C, D. PT [A23072706], ♀: C. Dorsal view; D. Fore- and hindwings, ventral view;
E–H. PT [A23072704], ♂: E. Sternum A8, dorsal view; F. Phallus, lateral view; G, H. Main genital sclerites of A9–10; G. Posterior view; H. Lateral view.
Scale bar (left) for A–D: 1 cm; scale bar (right) for E–H: 1 mm.

 Rondotia melanoleuca Cao & Liu, sp. nov.

Diagnosis: Adults of R. melanoleuca sp. nov. have wings with distinct white patches placed between black vertical stripes and black wing-veins, which enables easy distinction from all other bombycids without dissection of genital structures. Wang et al. (2015) provided a diagnosis for R. menciana, R. diaphana and R. lineata, in which they noted “forewing with outer margin concave below apex and a projection at the end of M3 […] uncus divided into three lobes; valval apex broader with a large and a small tooth”. In contrast, the new species has a straighter forewing termen, a biforked uncus, and a rounded dorsodistal edge of the valva.

Rondotia melanoleuca sp. nov.  A–E, G–I. Specimens from the type locality; F. Specimen from Fugong County, Yunnan.
A. Adult ♂, newly emerged, dorsal view, front light photography; B, C. Adult ♀, newly emerged, surround light photography: B. Dorsal view; C. Ventral view; D. Adult ♂, natural resting condition, dorsolateral view; E. Mature larva, dorsolateral view; F. Mature larva, lateral view; G, H. Pupa ♀, within an opened cocoon: G. Lateral view; H. Ventral view; I. Cocoon, lateral view.
Scale bars: 5 mm.

Etymology: This feminine adjective in modern Latin means “black and white”; interestingly, the Sichuanese giant panda carries the same specific name.

Distribution: The specimens in this study are all from Leshan (Sichuan) and Fugong (Yunnan), but the new species may be more widely distributed in montane broadleaf forests in both provinces. However, due to the presence of similar environments, we presume the species may also be found in the northern Indochina Peninsula, e.g., in Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam.

 Zhengyang Liu and Xiwen Cao. 2024. Rondotia melanoleuca sp. nov., A New wild-mulberry Silkworm from China (Lepidoptera, Bombycidae). Nota Lepidopterologica. 47: 49-56. DOI: 10.3897/nl.47.109920