Leona Evans, 1937, Evans, 1937

Cock, Matthew J. W., Congdon, T. Colin E. & Collins, Steve C., 2016, Observations on the biology of Afrotropical Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera). Part 9. Hesperiinae incertae sedis: Zingiberales feeders, genera of unknown biology and an overview of the Hesperiinae incertae sedis, Zootaxa 4066 (3), pp. 201-247: 224-225

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Leona Evans, 1937


Leona Evans, 1937  

Evans (1937) established this genus with L. leonora (Plötz)   as the type species for nine (now twelve) species of Afrotropical skippers, which he considered very closely allied to Pteroteinon   and Caenides   . Evans (1937) recognised three groups: (1) four species having the UNH dark brown with inconspicuous markings (2) one species ( L. leonora   ) with UNH with large white central spots in line in base of space lC, cell and space 7; discal spots in spaces lC and 2, and (3) four (now seven) species with conspicuous ochreous markings UNH.

Lindsey & Miller (1965) and Ackery et al. (1995) treated Leona   as a synonym of Caenides   , but Larsen (2005) treated it as a valid genus. Based on the male genitalia (uncus pointed in Caenides   and bifid in Leona   ) and some external characters they do seem to divide into these two groups, apart from L. lissa Evans   which feeds on Dracaena   spp. (Cock et al. 2015) and L. luehderi (Plötz)   for which the food plants are unknown; these two species may require a separate genus (T.B. Larsen pers. comm. 2015).

Leona   group (1) includes L. maracanda (Hewitson)   , a palm-feeding species treated in Cock et al. (2014) and three species of unknown biology. The biology of L. leonora   , the only species in group (2) is unknown, although Heath et al. (2002) suggest its food plant is possibly Zingiberaceae   . Of the seven species in group (3), L. stoehri (Karsch)   is reported to feed on Amomum   sp. (likely to refer to Aframomum   sp.) in Uganda ( Le Pelley 1959, Sevastopulo 1975), L. halma Evans   is reported to feed on Amomum   sp. ( Kielland 1990) or Aframomum   sp. ( Heath et al. 2002, Larsen 2005, Vande weghe 2010) (but this may be carried over from when L. halma   was treated as a ssp. of L. stoehri   ), and L. lissa   feeds on Dracaena   sp(p). (Cock et al. 2015), while the biology of the other four species is unknown. Given that there has been some taxonomic confusion within group (3) as well as in the food plant names used, confirmation of these food plants is desirable.

Based on the food plants alone, one might anticipate that Leona   as presently constituted is paraphyletic. Unfortunately we have no information on the early stages of any Leona   spp. apart from L. maracanda (Cock et al. 2014)   so cannot comment further, or on whether the Zingiberaceae-feeding species show affinities with the Zingiberaceae- and Costaceae-feeding Semalea   , Xanthodisca   , Hypoleucis   and Caenides   spp.


University of New Hampshire












Leona Evans, 1937

Cock, Matthew J. W., Congdon, T. Colin E. & Collins, Steve C. 2016

L. maracanda

Cock et al. 2014