Geritola pacifica , Sáfián, Szabolcs, Collins, Steve C. & Libert, Michel, 2015

Sáfián, Szabolcs, Collins, Steve C. & Libert, Michel, 2015, Two new species in the genus Geritola Libert, 1999 (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae, Epitolini), Zootaxa 3931 (2), pp. 286-292: 287-288

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Geritola pacifica

sp. n.

Geritola pacifica  sp. n. Sáfián & Libert

( Figs. 1View FIGURE 1 A, B, 3 A)

Holotype. ♂ Liberia, Camp Alpha, Gola National Forest 6-10.II. 2011. Leg. Sáfián, Sz. Gen. prep.: SAFI 00072 (deposited in the ABRI collection, genitalia stored in micro-vial and pinned to specimen) Coordinates: 7 ° 32 ' 4.94 "N, 10 ° 41 ' 20.61 "W. Elevation: 348 m.

Paratype. ♂ Liberia, Gambo Trail, Sapo National Park 15-18.XI. 2012. Leg. Sáfián, Sz., Tropek, R. (deposited in Sáfián’s reference collection) Coordinates: 5 ° 32 ' 12 "N, 8 ° 20 ' 52 "W. Elevation: 234 m.

Description of the holotype. Forewing length: 18 mm. Antenna: 8 mm. Approximately half of the forewing is deep iridescent blue, covering most of spaces 2 dA, Cu 2 and the discoidal cell, slightly less in spaces Cu 1, M 3 and M 2. The blue area broadens evenly on its outer margin from vein 2 dA. The outer margin of the blue patch is broken up by strong black scaling along veins 2 dA, Cu 2, Cu 1, M 3, forming lobes or “fingers” of blue, with rather narrow but rounded tips. The depth of these lobes reaches 2 mm along veins Cu 2, Cu 1 and M 3, while it is visibly shallower along vein 2 dA. The forewing apex is narrow, rather acute. The length of the swollen section of vein 2 dA is longer than half of the vein, 8.5 mm on the holotype. The hindwing upperside is mostly shiny deep blue, leaving only spaces M 1, R s and Sc+R 1 without blue scaling. The hindwing has a 1 mm black margin, broadening to a black triangular area of 2.5 mm in space M 2. The underside is dirty white, with a very fine grey marginal line on both wings and an almost invisible shade of a zigzagging submarginal line on the forewing, which is characteristic of the Geritola  pattern.

Genitalia. The general appearance of the genitalia is similar to other Geritola  . The uncus is blunt, hood-like, without any projections. It is densely covered with fine hairs. The valvae are uniformly broad with even, gently curving edges; they are also without any projections, apart from a prolonged lobe on the tips, which taper downwards. The tip of the lobe is evenly rounded. The aedeagus has a narrow spear-like tip, it broadens significantly towards the middle-section, gently curving on the dorsal side, but rather flatter on the ventral side. It narrows down again, sharply towards its opposite (basal) end, with a very characteristic undulating edge on the ventral side, which ends in a hook-like tooth.

Diagnosis. G. pacifica  is closest to G. nitidica  . However, the outer edge of the forewing blue area is diagnostic for separation, as the blue scaling forms three rather narrow lobes of even width and with rounded tips in spaces between veins Cu 2 and M 2 in G. pacifica  . G. nitidica  has rather irregular outer edge of the blue area with one prominent lobe in space between veins M 3 and M 2, rather flat edge of the blue area in spaces between veins Cu 2, Cu 1 and M 3 where the blue area is also narrower than between veins M 3 and M 2. G. pacifica  is easier to separate from G. wardi  , as the latter has only a very fine black margin on its hindwing upperside, while G. pacifica  has a prominent, 1 mm broad black margin. Moreover, the main diagnostic feature of G. pacifica  lies in male genitalia, as the aedeagus is strongly toothed ventrally on its basal end while the aedeagus of both G. nitidica  and G. wardi  have an even edge ventrally.

Discussion. The holotype of G. pacifica  was found in Liberia’s Gola National Forest on a hilltop, where many other Epitolini were also recorded. The second male specimen was captured in Sapo National Park in Eastern Liberia. Both Sapo and Gola are typical representatives of the hyper-wet lowland forest of the Liberian sub-region (between Eastern Ivory Coast and Central Sierra Leone), which is of high conservation importance. G. pacifica  and its allopatric sister species G. nitidica  are typical examples where a species group known from Central Africa, but not previously recorded from west of the Cross River area of Eastern Nigeria is represented by a distinct species in the Liberian sub-region. This allopatry seems to be rather common, as a number of recently described species, discovered in the Liberian sub-region ( Belcastro 1986, Larsen 2005, Libert 2013), or awaiting description (Sáfián unpublished), have a closely related sister species in Central Africa. This phenomenon could not be revealed earlier, as butterfly research in the Liberian sub-region was not possible during the two decades of civil conflicts, when field research had intensified in other West African countries ( Larsen 2005), and therefore many of these species escaped detection.

Etymology. The name pacifica  is given as an expression of respect for the Liberian nation, who after a long time of political turmoil, finally eliminated violence from the country and has settled in a hopefully long lasting democratic peace.