Kedestes callicles Hewitson, 1868

Cock, Matthew J. W. & Congdon, T. Colin E., 2014, Observations on the biology of Afrotropical Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera). Part 7. Hesperiinae incertae sedis: grass and bamboo feeders, Zootaxa 3872 (4), pp. 301-354 : 310-311

publication ID 10.11646/zootaxa.3872.4.1

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Kedestes callicles Hewitson, 1868


Probably Kedestes callicles Hewitson, 1868 View in CoL (in Hewitson 1867 –1868)

MJWC found a single rather distinctive caterpillar at Kibwezi Forest, Kenya, feeding on Enteropogon macrostachyus , a tussock-forming grass on 21 Jan 1990. The caterpillar was not reared, so its identity could not be established. The food plant and shelter are at this stage unique, and the caterpillar is sufficiently distinctive that it should be possible to recognise from fresh collections. Of the adult Hesperiinae that MJWC found at Kibwezi Forest over four years, the only species for which the early stages were completely unknown to him is Kedestes callicles (Hewitson) , which was seen there in small numbers on one occasion. Furthermore, the caterpillar shown in Figure 7 View FIGURE 7 is similar to those of K. callicles reared by Ian Sharp (pers. comm. 2014) and reported by Otto et al. (2013) from Kruger National Park, South Africa. However, images of the full life cycle of K. callicles documented by Vaughan Jessnitz (pers. comm. 2014) indicate that although the caterpillar that MJWC found is probably in the third instar of five, the markings on the face are less extensive and much less pale than those in the example that Vaughan photographed. However, T.B. Larsen (pers. comm. 2014) considers that the disjunct population of K. callicles in southern and south-eastern Africa is specifically distinct from that of northern Tanzania, Kenya and west to Cameroon. Thus, the caterpillar treated here is certainly a Kedestes sp. and probably is K. callicles (or rather the northern segregate of K. callicles ), but this does need to be confirmed.

The shelter was formed on a grass blade of 220mm: the shelter was a roll made from the basal 90mm, there was feeding from both margins for the next 45mm, and the remainder of the leaf was untouched. This arrangement of the shelter at the base of the leaf has not been noted for any other Afrotropical species, but in the context of a tussock forming grass, such a shelter would be easily overlooked. The caterpillar ( Figure 7 View FIGURE 7 ) measured 14mm, so was probably in the penultimate or n-2 instar; head ground colour very dark, blackish, matt, rugose; a row of three brown spots from just below apex to in front of the stemmata, the most dorsal least differentiated, and the most ventral most differentiated and with a paler centre. Prothorax narrow, dark; body yellowish white, with a darker dorsal line; anal plate distinctively black, rugose.

The caterpillar hardly fed at all until 11 Feb when it moulted. The new instar was similar except the brown markings of the head were no longer present. Several substitute grasses used by other Hesperiinae were offered and on 20 Feb there was some slight feeding on Megathrysus maximus (= Panicum maximum ), but this did not continue. By 26 Mar it was moribund, and on 1 Apr was considered dead. MJWC interpreted this as an aestivating caterpillar, which did not receive the right cues to continue development.

I. Sharp (pers. comm. 2014) confirmed that the caterpillar of K. callicles has a black anal plate. We note that Pringle & Scholsz (1997) also report a black anal plate in the third instar only of K. niveostriga schloszi , an uncommon feature in Hesperiinae (see discussion under Perrotia albiplaga Oberthür ), lending support to the suggestion that this is the caterpillar of a Kedestes sp.













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