Samea castellalis Guenée, 1854,

Bernard Landry, 2016, Taxonomic revision of the Spilomelinae (Lepidoptera, Pyralidae s. l.) of the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador, Revue suisse de Zoologie 123 (2), pp. 315-399: 372-373

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Samea castellalis Guenée, 1854


Samea castellalis Guenée, 1854 

Figs 53, 54View Figs 49 - 56, 125View Figs 125 - 127, 171View Figs 168 - 172

Samea castellalis Guenée, 1854: 195  . ‒ Causton et al., 2006: 141. ‒ Roque-Albelo & Landry, 2015.

Samea ecclesialis Guenée, 1854  (misidentification): Peck et al., 1998: 227.

Material examined: 13 ♂, 29 ♀, 2 of undetermined sex from the Galápagos Islands: – Fernandina: Cabo Douglas, GPS: S 00° 18.269’, W 091° 39.098’. – Isabela: Alcedo, lado NE, low arid zone bosq[ue]. palo santo; 3 km N S[an]to Tómas, Agr[iculture]. Zone; Sierra Negra, 11 km N Puerto Villamil, GPS: S 00° 87.613’, W 91° 00.903’; Sierra Negra, Corazon Verde; NE slope Alcedo, ca. 400 m up (S) Los Guayabillos Camp, GPS: 892 m elev[ation]., S 00°25.208’, W 91°04.765’; Alcedo, lado NE, 1100 m, cumbre, Caseta Cayot. – San Cristóbal: 4 km SE P[uer] to Baquarizo [sic]; 1 km S El Progreso; base of Cerro Pelado; La Toma, ca. 6.5 km east El Progreso, GPS: 299 m elev., S 00° 55.356’, W 89° 31.089’; pampa zone; El Junco, east side, GPS: 654 m elev., S 00° 53.734’, W 89° 28.727’. – Santa Cruz: Horneman Farm, 200 m; Horneman Farm, 220 m elev.; Tortuga Res[erve]. W S[an]ta Rosa; agriculture zone, near (NNW) Bella Vista, GPS: 223 m elev., S 00° 41.297’, W 90° 19.670’; 2 km W Bella Vista; Finca S[teve]. Devine; Los Gemelos; Media Luna, pampa zone. – Santiago: Bahía Espumilla  ; 200 m elev.; N side, GPS: 437 m elev., S 00° 13.316’, W 090° 43.808’; Aguacate [camp], 520 m elev.; NE side, close to Caseta, GPS: 686 m elev., S 00°14.177’, W 90°44.619’; Central [camp], 700 m elev.; Jaboncillo [camp], ± 850 m elev. Deposited in AMNH, BMNH, CAS, CDRS, CNC, and MHNG.

Diagnosis: This species is very similar to Samea ecclesialis Guenée, 1854  ( Fig. 80View Figs 73 - 80), but the males are easily separated by the presence of lateral tufts of pale cream, drab, and dark brown scent scales on the abdomen (on segments IV-VII) curving posterodorsally over the tergites in S. castellalis  ( Fig. 54View Figs 49 - 56), as Guenée aptly mentioned, and their absence in S. ecclesialis  . One other possible external character is the dark marginal fascia of the hindwing remaining wide until the inner margin in S. ecclesialis  (1 specimen, Fig. 80View Figs 73 - 80) while this fascia is decreasing in width toward the inner margin in S. castellalis  . In the male genitalia of S. ecclesialis  ( Fig. 137View Figs 136 - 137) the dorsal margin of the valva is not angled (angled in S. castellalis  , Fig. 125View Figs 125 - 127) and the fibula is shorter, stouter, and bifid, with a spoon-shaped medial element and a narrower digit-like element on top of it (simple and pointed in S. castellalis  ). reliably identified female of S. ecclesialis  could not be found to dissect and record the characters that would separate them from those of S. castellalis  . Wingspan: 19-23 mm.

Biology: In Florida, U.S.. the larval food plant is Richardia brasiliensis Gomes  (Tropical Mexican clover, Rubiaceae  ) and the moths are often attracted to Multi- Lure® (McPhail-type) traps deployed for tephritid fruit fly detection ( Hayden, 2014). other food plant record exists for either S. castellalis  and S. ecclesialis  in the literature as far as I know. ‘Larvae spin slight webs among leaves and graze the epidermis of either leaf side, forming rounded windows; they spin a white silken shelter among leaves for pupation’ ( Hayden, 2014). In the Galápagos specimens have been collected from the littoral zone up to the highest, pampa zone, for example at 1100 m on Alcedo, Isabela, in habitats either unmodified or modified for agriculture from January to April as well as in November and December.

Distribution: Based on specimens examined in the BMNH, this species is widespread in the Neotropical region, in the West Indies ( Bahamas, Cuba, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Trinidad), and on the continents from Mexico through Guatemala and Costa Rica, south to Paraguay, including British Guiana, Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil. Patterson et al. (2015) reports Samea ecclesialis  widely from the eastern US States north to Massachusetts and Iowa, but some of the specimens pictured are males with the dorsoabdominal scent scales of S. castellalis  . In the Galápagos this species has been found on several islands: Fernandina, Isabela, San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, and Santiago.

Remarks: This taxon has been confused and synonymized with S. ecclesialis Guenée (1854: 194- 195, pl. 6 fig. 7)  , for example by Munroe (1995: 74). I have first mentioned S. castellalis  to be a valid species in Causton et al. (2006: 141), but an explanation for its removal from synonymy with S. ecclesialis  is presented here for the first time. It is based on the study of the available syntypes and on morphological differences mentioned above in the Diagnosis. The male syntype, without abdominal tufts of scent scales dorsally, and the female syntype of S. ecclesialis  from Cayenne, French Guyana are deposited in the BMNH, but the original description recorded several more specimens from Brazil, Colombia and Septentrional America that could not be found in the BMNH. Similarly, the description of S. castellalis  recorded several specimens of both sexes from Brazil, Colombia, and Septentrional America that could not be found in the BMNH. Also, there is no evidence for the S. castellalis  syntypes in the BMNH based on the annotated copy of Guenée deposited in the BMNH. They are apparently not either in the ‘Muséum national d’histoire naturelle’, Paris based on a catalogue of type photos from this museum that Michael Shaffer showed me in April 2000. Samea disertalis Walker (1866: 1302)  is a synonym of S. castellalis  as attest external morphology of the male syntype found in the BMNH and here designated lectotype, with the following labels: 1- ‘Hon- | duras’ [on verso], ’45 | 123’ [on recto] [circular, hand written]; 2- ‘Lecto- | type’ [circular, blue bordered, typed]; 3- ‘ LECTOTYPE | Samea  | disertalis Walker  | Des. B. Landry, 2000’ [rectangular, typed except for species, describer names, and last numbers of year]. The name Samea luccusalis Walker, 1859  is also attributed to the synonymy of S. castellalis  because it seems to be the most common species, but the unique type is in the Hope Museum, Oxford, England, and a photo I have examined does not allow to identify the species with certainty.


American Museum of Natural History


California Academy of Sciences


Invertebrate Collection


Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids, and Nematodes


Museum d'Histoire Naturelle














Samea castellalis Guenée, 1854

Bernard Landry 2016

Samea castellalis Guenée, 1854 : 195

Guenee M. A. 1854: 195