Research Article
Research Article
A new Orthosia Ochsenheimer, 1816 species from Iran (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae, Hadeninae)
expand article infoBenjamin Wiesmair, Asghar Shirvani§, László Ronkay|
‡ Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen, Innsbruck, Austria
§ Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran
| Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest, Hungary
Open Access


A new Orthosia species, O. habeleri sp. nov., is described from Iran (Kerman, SE Zagros Mts), and compared with the allopatric, closely related species, O. manfredi Hreblay, 1994. The subgenus Orthosia and its three main lineages are characterised; the primary types of the taxa described by Staudinger and Hreblay & Plante are illustrated; the photographs of the male genitalia of the holotypes of O. manfredi Hreblay, 1994, O. ariuna Hreblay, 1991, O. faqiri Hreblay & Plante, 1994 and O. feda Hreblay & Plante, 1994, and the lectotype of O. incerta var. pallida Staudinger, 1888 are illustrated for the first time.


The genus Orthosia Ochsenheimer, 1816 is a large Holarctic-Oriental group of the tribe Orthosiini (Noctuidae, Hadeninae), comprising more than sixty species, and the majority of them occurring in eastern and south-eastern Asia. Five species of the genus Orthosia (s.l.) are currently known from Iran: O. cruda ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775), O. gracilis ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775), O. imitabilis Hreblay, 1993, O. incerta (Hufnagel, 1766) and O. sordescens Hreblay, 1993. The subgeneric taxa accepted in the most recent literature (Ronkay et al. 2001; Ronkay et al. 2010; Volynkin and Titov 2014, etc.) are of a provisional nature before the complete revision of the Holarctic-Oriental generic group (and the whole tribe) is completed. The above-mentioned works consider most of the formerly described supraspecific taxa as subgenera within Orthosia (s. l.), opposing the concepts of Berio (1980) and Beck (1996, 1999a, 1999b). The subgenus Orthosia sensu Ronkay et al. (2010) includes altogether three species-groups mentioned below in the Synopsis and an integrative revision of the Orthosia generic complex may distinguish all these three species-groups to be at the subgeneric level.

The tribe Orthosiini, and within it the genus Orthosia, is conspicuously heterogeneous in external and genital morphology throughout the Palaearctic and Oriental regions. The great majority of the genera and species of the tribe occur in the Himalayan region, more precisely, in the Himalayan-Sino-Pacific region, which includes the main chains of the Himalaya from Pakistan to northern Indochina and the eastern frontier of the Tibetan Plateau, together with the western and central Chinese mountainous regions, Taiwan and the southern parts of Japan and continental Pacific areas (see Sugi 1955, 1986; Poole 1989; Chang 1991; Chen 1999; Hreblay and Ronkay 1997; Kononenko et al. 1998; Hreblay et al. 1999; Ronkay and Ronkay 2000, 2002; Titov et al. 2017). It is worth noting that certain areas of Eurasia, especially the western Mediterranean and the arid Central Asian territories, are conspicuously poor in Orthosiini species (Ronkay et al. 2001).

The bulk of the taxa belonging to Orthosia were recently described (Hreblay 1991, 1993, 1994; Yoshimoto 1993; Hreblay and Plante 1994; Hreblay and Ronkay 1998, 1999; Ronkay et al. 2010; Saldaitis et al. 2011, etc.). The subgenus Orthosia includes 11 described species (see Ronkay et al. 2001; Volynkin and Titov 2014), only two of which occur in Europe and NW Africa while the majority of the species are Central Asiatic, inhabiting steppe-like habitats and rather dry higher montane biotopes. This habitat preference is not common in the genus Orthosia; most prefer more humid and most often woody biotopes.

In the first decade of the 21st century, two specimens of a curious species of Orthosiini were collected in the Kerman area of the southern Zaghros Mts and later examined independently by the authors. These specimens resemble externally mostly certain western Himalayan species of the noctuid genus Harutaeographa Yoshimoto, 1993, especially the dark examples of H. bidui Hreblay & Plante, 1996, H. rama Hreblay & Plante, 1996 and H. brahma Hreblay & Ronkay, 1998 (see Figs 19–24), except that the pectination of the male antenna of the Iranian species is quite different from those of the three Harutaeographa taxa. The study of the genitalia revealed, rather surprisingly, that these moths represent an unknown member of the Orthosia incerta species-group, displaying most of the apomorphic male genital features of this lineage, but with easily recognisable specific differences. The male genitalia of the subgenus Orthosia differ conspicuously from those of Harutaeographa in the configuration of the aedeagus and the vesica (see Figs 2542). The new species is described below, in comparison with its closest relatives.

Material and methods

Morphology and material

Our study is based on the examination of a large set of material of the taxa belonging to the subgenus Orthosia, including the type-specimens of all but one species. The external and genitalic features of O. ronkayorum Volynkin & Titov, 2014 were evaluated from the text and illustrations of the original description. The material was set and dried in a conventional way. Genitalia preparations followed standard techniques for Noctuoidea, including the eversion of the vesica.

Photographic documentation

Representative material of the taxa of the subgenus Orthosia was studied and photographed. The type material was examined in the Hungarian Natural History Museum (HNHM, Budapest), the Museum für Naturkunde - Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science (MfN, Berlin), and the Natural History Museum (NHMUK, London), and the private collections of Márton Hreblay and Gábor Ronkay (Budapest). The habitus of the specimens was photographed with a Nikon D90 camera; the images of the genitalia slides were taken with a Nikon Eclipse 80i photomicroscope with a Nikon DS-Fi2 digital camera. All images published in this article are preserved in the photographic catalogue of the Heterocera Research Team, Budapest.

The genitalia of the three groups in the subgenus Orthosia are rather well illustrated, see for instance the works of Sugi (1955, 1986); Ronkay et al. (2010); Volynkin and Titov (2014), etc. The genitalia of the holotype specimens of the taxa described by M. Hreblay had been illustrated so far, however, only as line drawings. The photos of these genitalia structures, together with those of the lectotype of O. incerta var. pallida, are illustrated in Figs 2938.


aed aedeagus.

AS Genitalia slide made by Asghar Shirvani.

ca clasping apparatus.

HM Genitalia slide made by Márton Hreblay.

HNHM Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest, Hungary.

HT Holotype.

LT Lectotype.

MfN Museum für Naturkunde - Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science, Berlin, Germany.

NHMUK The Natural History Museum (formerly British Museum, Natural History or BMNH), London, Great Britain.

PT Paratype.

RL Genitalia slide made by László Ronkay.

TLMF Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck, Austria.

Results and discussion


Subgenus Orthosia Ochsenheimer, 1816

Orthosia Ochsenheimer, 1816, “Die Schmetterlinge von Europa” 4: 79. Type-species: Noctua instabilis [Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775 (= Phalaena incerta Hufnagel, 1766), by subsequent designation by Curtis, 1828.

List of species

incerta -group

incerta (Hufnagel, 1766) (Figs 27, 28)

ssp. incognita Sugi, 1955 (Fig. 4)

manfredi Hreblay, 1994 (Figs 5, 6, 29, 30)

habeleri sp. nov. (Figs 1–3, 25, 26)

picata -group

picata Bang-Haas, 1912 (= pallida Staudinger, 1888, praeocc. (Figs 7, 8, 31, 32)

ariuna Hreblay, 1991 (Figs 17, 18, 33, 34)

ronkayorum Volynkin & Titov, 2014

reshoefti Hreblay, 1994 (Figs 15, 16)

faqiri Hreblay & Plante, 1994 (Figs 9, 10, 35, 36)

feda Hreblay & Plante, 1994 (Figs 11–14, 37, 38)

evanida -group

evanida (Butler, 1879)

perfusca Sugi, 1986

ssp. pekarskyi Ronkay, Ronkay, Gyulai & Hacker, 2010

aoyamensis (Matsumura, 1926)

Systematic part

The first really detailed description of the major lineages of Orthosia s. l. was published in Italian by Berio (1985). A general characterisation of the subgenus Orthosia Ochsenheimer, 1816 was first provided in English by Hreblay and Plante (1994), subsequently by Ronkay et al. (2001); only a brief summary of the main group features is presented here.

The subgenus Orthosia comprises medium-sized or rather large species (wingspan 30–45 mm), with elongated, relatively narrow, apically pointed forewings; forewing pattern can be variously expressed, often blurred, or rather sharply marked, with distinct crosslines and orbicular and reniform stigmata; colouration very variable; the individual variation is remarkable in all known species. The most typical external morphological feature of the subgenus is the biserrate male antenna (with long, fasciculate cilia), its pectination is shorter than in the other major groups of Orthosia. It is worth to mention that the female antenna is not filiform as in most other groups of Orthosia s.l. but, minutely or shortly, biserrate, with long sparse fasciculate cilia.

The male genitalia of the subgenus Orthosia are characterised by the following group features: 1) male genital capsule strongly sclerotized, symmetrical; 2) uncus usually scaphoidal; 3) juxta strong, narrow and long, quadrangular; 4) vinculum strong, very long, V-shaped; 5) valva elongate with most often characteristically S-shaped costal margin; 6) cucullus small or medium-sized, acutely triangular (except in O. habeleri and O. perfusca), most often with strong, cuneate pollex (reduced only in O. manfredi, O. habeleri and O. perfusca; 7) corona absent; 8) sacculus long, distal end heavily sclerotized; 9) clavus usually large, lobate, rounded; 10) ampulla strong, falcate or arched thorn-like; 11) harpe with short, digitiform or pyriform (erected) process; 12) aedeagus long, cylindrical, carina with long, heavily sclerotized, acute ventral (or subventral) thorn and short, straight ventro-lateral bar; 13) vesica broadly tubular, membranous, recurved ventro-laterally, with subconical medial diverticulum.

The diagnostic features of the female genitalia are as follows: 1) ovipositor relatively long, conical, apophyses posteriores long, slender; 2) antrum narrowly lyriform or calyculate, heavily sclerotized, often with serrate-dentate lateral crests; 3) ductus bursae long, tubular, variably thick, most often dilated distally; 4) appendix bursae membranous, helicoid; 5) corpus bursae ellipsoidal-ovoid, with four long signum-stripes; 6) last sternite with narrow, long, sclerotized bars.

The subgenus Orthosia is a rather compact species group consisting of three main lineages, the O. incerta-, the O. picata-, and the O. evanida-lineages. This subgenus is still a challenging complex from a taxonomic point of view, containing externally often confusingly similar species, while the genitalia of both sexes display clearly recognisable distinctive features. The genitalia of both sexes do not show distinctive variation within a species, despite the great individual variation in the external features; even the Trans-Palaearctic O. (O.) incerta has actually only one recognised subspecies, the Japanese ssp. incognita.

The members of the O. incerta-lineage differ externally from those of the O. picata-lineage mainly in their larger size, sometimes also by their the more blurred forewing pattern while the genitalia show differences in the general features, e.g. the shape of the uncus, the configuration of the distal part of the valva, the length of the pollex and the thorn of the carina (males), the shape of the sclerotization of the antrum and the shape and thickness of ductus bursae (females). The members of the O. evanida-lineage are externally rather similar due to their rather large size, broad forewings with distinct antemedial, postmedial and subterminal lines and well-marked, large orbicular and reniform stigmata. This lineage appears more heterogeneous, however, by the configuration of their male genitalia (see Ronkay et al. 2010), especially the valval shapes of the three known species appear as strikingly different from each other while the features of the aedeagus and the vesica clearly demonstrate their close relationship.

Orthosia (Orthosia) habeleri sp. nov.

Figs 1–3, 25, 26

Type material

Holotype . Male, Iran, Kerman, Kuh-e-Hessar/Abshar, 2820 m, 29°33’N, 57°18’E, 28.iv.2006, leg. B. Plössl & G. Tarmann; slide No. N1595 (coll. TLMF, Hall in Tyrol).

Paratype . Male, Iran, Kerman, Jiroft, Mardehak, 2273 m, v.2009, leg. M. Shoghali; slide No. AS532 (coll. Shahid Bahonar University, Kerman).


The new species belongs to the incerta-lineage, its closest known relative is the Moroccan O. manfredi, due to the progressive series of similar morphological reductions in the male genitalia (reduction of the pollex, and the shortened carinal thorn or the rather straight aedeagus). On the other hand, there are a number of easily recognisable specific external and male genital features which distinguish the three closely related species, O. habeleri, O. manfredi and O. incerta.

Figures 1–8. 

1 Orthosia habeleri, HT, male, Iran, Kerman 2 Orthosia habeleri, HT, male, Iran, Kerman, labels 3 Orthosia habeleri, PT, male, Iran, Kerman 4 Orthosia incerta incognita, male, Japan 5 Orthosia manfredi, HT, male, Morocco 6 Orthosia manfredi, HT, male, Morocco, labels 7 Orthosia picata (Orthosia incerta var. pallida, LT), male, Kuldja 8 Orthosia picata (Orthosia incerta var. pallida, LT), male, Kuldja, labels.


The male genitalia of the new species (Figs 25, 26) can be distinguished from those of O. incerta and O. manfredi (Figs 27–30) by the 1) subapically stronger dilated, apically more tapering uncus (it is the widest medially while the broadest part is the apical section in the two close relatives); 2) the more elongated valva with distally less curved costa; 3) the larger and apically broader, rounded cucullus; 4) the basally straighter, medially less curved, rather arched thorn-like ampulla; and 5) the much stronger, longer and thicker erect part of the harpe (clasper). The rather straight aedeagus and the shortened carinal thorn of O. habeleri is closer to those of O. manfredi than to O. incerta but the basal part of the carinal thorn of the new species has a broader junction plate and is more divergent from the main tube of the vesica than in the other two relatives. The aedeagus of O. incerta is longer and more arched than in the two other sister taxa and the carinal thorn is remarkably longer than in O. habeleri and O. manfredi.

Figures 9–16. 

9 Orthosia faqiri, HT, male, Pakistan 10 Orthosia faqiri, HT, male, Pakistan, labels 11 Orthosia feda, HT, male, Pakistan 12 Orthosia feda, HT, male, Pakistan, labels 13 Orthosia feda, male, Pakistan 14 Orthosia feda, male, Pakistan, labels 15 Orthosia reshoefti, HT, female, Afghanistan 16 Orthosia reshoefti, HT, female, Afghanistan, labels.


Wingspan 36–37 mm (holotype: 36 mm; paratype 37 mm), length of forewing 16 mm. Ground colour of the two known specimens conspicuously different (see the Figs 1–3), varying from ochreous-brown to smoky-greyish with black irroration. Eyes large, hairy; palpi rather slender; male antennae biserrate with short fasciculate cilia. Pubescence of head, collar, tegulae and thorax unicolorous. Forewing relatively narrow, apically pointed, outer margin slightly sinuous. Forewing markings very variable in the two individuals, elements of noctuid pattern less distinct, basal two-thirds of costal margin paler than ground colour; basal dash present, short, black; antemedial line obsolescent; postmedial line better visible, dark blackish-grey; median area somewhat darker than ground colour. Orbicular and reniform stigmata present, their filling slightly paler than median area, their outlines rather distinct, blackish-grey; claviform stigma obsolete. Subterminal line distinct, waved, defined by dark grey scales in tornal and median areas; terminal line fine, whitish-ochreous; terminal area and fringes as ground colour, fringes finely spotted with darker scales and fine blackish medial line. Hindwings whitish-ochreous, suffused strongly with darker ochreous-brown to brownish grey; discal spot and tornal patch darker brown-grey; terminal line fine, dark grey-brown; fringe somewhat darker than ground colour; abdomen dark brown, without distinctly coloured lateral ridges and dorsal crest, basal abdominal brush organ („trifine brush organ”) absent.

Figures 17–24. 

17 Orthosia ariuna, HT, male, Mongolia 18 Orthosia ariuna, HT, male, Mongolia, labels 19 Harutaeographa bidui, male, Pakistan 20 Harutaeographa bidui, male, Pakistan, label 21 Harutaeographa brahma, PT, male, Nepal 22 Harutaeographa brahma, PT, male, Nepal, labels 23 Harutaeographa rama, male, Pakistan 24 Harutaeographa rama, male, Pakistan, labels.

Male genitalia (Figs 25, 26). Genital capsule symmetrical, strongly sclerotized. Tegumen narrow and high; valvae elongated, costal margin weakly S-shaped; sacculus long, sclerotized; clavus large, rounded; harpe broad, with short, erect digitiform process; ampulla long, almost straight or somewhat arched thorn-like (right ampulla of the holotype is broken, that is complete in the paratype), its basal half wider, tapering apically; cucullus large, basally straight; pollex and corona absent. Uncus scaphoidal, basally cylindrical, subapically dilated, tapering apically; juxta long and strong, quadrangular; vinculum very long, pointed, V-shaped. Aedeagus cylindrical, long and rather straight; carina with long, sclerotized, pointed thorn. Vesica tubular, recurved, bearing a small subconical diverticulum in basal half.

Female genitalia. Unknown.

Figures 25–30. 

25 N1595m, Orthosia habeleri, HT, Iran Kerman, ca 26 N1595m, Orthosia habeleri, HT, Iran, Kerman, aed 27 RL3195m, Orthosia incerta, Turkey, ca 28 RL3195m, Orthosia incerta, Turkey, aed 29 HM6024m, Orthosia manfredi, HT, Morocco, ca 30 HM6024m, Orthosia manfredi, HT, Morocco, aed.

Bionomics and distribution

The species is known from the regions of high elevation of the southern Zaghros Mts (the two specimens were collected above 2200 m elevation). The biology is poorly known, but the flight period is in late spring (April–May), similar to several other species of the genus.


The new species is dedicated to Heinz Habeler (Graz, Austria), who was the mentor providing enthusiastic help and motivation to the first author.

Figures 31–36. 

31 HM2257m, Orthosia picata (Orthosia incerta var. pallida, LT), Kuldja, ca 32 HM2257m, Orthosia picata (Orthosia incerta var. pallida, LT), Kuldja, aed 33 HM2050m, Orthosia ariuna, HT, Mongolia, ca 34 HM2050m, Orthosia ariuna, HT, Mongolia, aed 35 HM3303m, Orthosia faqiri, HT, Pakistan, ca 36 HM3303m, Orthosia faqiri, HT, Pakistan, aed.

Figures 37–42. 

37 HM3305m, Orthosia feda, HT, Pakistan, Rama, ca 38 HM3305m, Orthosia feda, HT, Pakistan, Rama, aed 39 RL6619/6620m, Harutaeographa bidui, Pakistan, ca 40 RL6619/6620m, Harutaeographa bidui, Pakistan, aed 41 RL5172/5173m, Harutaeographa brahma, PT, Nepal, ca 42 RL5172/5173m, Harutaeographa brahma, PT, Nepal, aed.


The authors are indebted to Bernhard Plössl (Innsbruck) for access to his important Iranian Noctuidae material, to Gerhard Tarmann (Völs), and Peter Huemer (Hall in Tyrol) for their continuous support in the taxonomic works of the first two authors; to Gábor Ronkay (Budapest) for consultations, access to the vast taxonomic database of Heterocera Ltd and for his technical assistance in the preparation of the manuscript. We also thank Mohammad Ali Shoghali (Kerman) for his valuable efforts in collecting the paratype specimen.

We are grateful to Wolfram Mey (Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany), and Martin R. Honey and Alberto Zilli (The Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom) for their kind help in the study of the collection materials. Our sincere thanks also to the reviewers and the editors of the article (Balázs Benedek, Maria Heikkilä, David Lees, Jose Luis Yela, Alberto Zilli).

The present survey was financially supported by the SYNTHESYS Project which is financed by European Community Research Infrastructure Action under the FP6 „Structuring the European Research Area” Programme; Grants Nos: GB-TAF-2656, FR-TAF-562 and SE-TAF-6919 (L. Ronkay).


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