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Utetheisa sumatrana - NZ.pgn.png
Utetheisa sumatrana imago
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Erebidae
Subtribe: Callimorphina
Genus: Utetheisa
Hübner, [1819]
Type species
Phalaena ornatrix
Linnaeus, 1758
  • Atasca Swinhoe, 1892
  • Deiopeia Curtis, 1827
  • Deiopeia Stephens, 1829 (non Curtis, 1827: preoccupied)
  • Exitelica Turner, 1921
  • Pitasila Moore, 1877
  • Raanya de Vos, 2007
  • Utethesia (lapsus)
  • Uthetheisa (lapsus)

Utetheisa is a genus of tiger moths in the Erebidae family.


Palpi porrect, extending beyond the frons. Antennae ciliated. Fore wings long and narrow, where the outer margin short and somewhat erect. Vein 3 from before angle of cell. Veins 4 and 5 from angle, vein 6 from upper angle and vein 7 to 10 from a short areole. Hind wing with vein 5 from above angle of cell. Vein 6 and 7 from upper angle and vein 8 from middle of cell.[1]

Caterpillars of many Utetheisa species feed on Crotalaria (rattlebox), and hence the genus as a whole is often called rattlebox moths. The adults usually have bright aposematic coloration[2] and contain toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are used as a chemical defense and are also incorporated into the sex pheromones of the males.[3]


The members of its subgenera Pitasila, Atasca, and Raanya were formerly included in Nyctemera. Utetheisa is placed in the tribe Callimorphina or in the Nyctemerina; some treatments merge the two subtribes.[4][5]

Utetheisa is monophyletic.[3]

Selected species[edit]

Species of Utetheisa include:[6]

Subgenus Utetheisa

Subgenus Atasca

Subgenus Raanya

Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides)

Subgenus Pitasila


  1. ^ Hampson G. F. (1892). "The Fauna Of British India Including Ceylon And Burma Moths Vol-ii". Digital Library of India. p. 558. Retrieved 4 July 2016. 
  2. ^ Garrett, S. E., et al. (2008). Alkaloidal protection of Utetheisa galapagensis (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae) against an invertebrate and a vertebrate predator in the Galápagos Islands. Galápagos Research 65 2.
  3. ^ a b DaCosta, M. A. (2010). Phylogeny of Utetheisa s. str.(Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Arctinae) with comments on the evolution of colour, hind wing scales and origin of New World species. Invertebrate Systematics 24(2), 113-30.
  4. ^ de Vos, R. (2007). The Utetheisa species of the subgenera Pitasila, Atasca and Raanya subgen. n. (Insecta, Lepidoptera: Arctiidae). Aldrovandia. Bollettino del Museo Civico di Zoologia di Roma 3, 31-120.
  5. ^ de Vos, R. and V. V. Dubatolov. (2010). Nyctemerini. In: Dubatolov, V. V. Tiger-moths of Eurasia (Lepidoptera, Arctiidae). Neue Entomologische Nachrichten 65, 11-18.
  6. ^ Savela, M. Utetheisa Lepidoptera and Some Other Life Forms. 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Jordan, K., 1939: On the constancy and variability of the differences between the Old World species of Utetheisa (Lepid.; Arctiidae). Novitates Zoologicae 41: 251-291, London and Aylesbury.
  • Perrott, D. C., [1967] 1966: Records of the arctiid genus Utetheisa in New Zealand. N.Z.Entomol. 3 (5): 3-4.
  • Robinson, G. S., 1971: The genus Utetheisa Hübner in Fiji with description of a new species (Lepidoptera, Arctiidae). Entomol. Rec. & J. Variation 83 (5): 123-130.
  • Robinson, G. & H. S. Robinson, 1974: Notes on the genus Utetheisa Hübner (Lepidoptera, Arctiidae) in the Western Pacific with larval descriptions. Entomol. Rec. & J. Variation 86 (5-6): 160-163.
  • Robinson, G. & H. S. Robinson., 1979-1980: Further observations on the species of Utetheisa Hübner (Lep.: Arctiidae) in the Western and Central Pacific, with the description of a new species from Niue Island. Entom. Rec. & J. Variation 91 (10): 270-273; 91 (11-12): 319-322, pl. 9; 92 (1): 13-16.
  • Roepke, W., 1941: On the Javanese species of the genus Utetheisa Hb. (Lep. Het., fam. Arctiidae). Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 84: 1-9, 4 figs., Amsterdam.