Micrathetis triplex (Walker) 1857
Diagnosis: Micrathetis triplex is one of the commoner species of the family Noctuidae in the drier tropical regions of the New World. It is also one of the most variable in color and size. The species is on the small side for a noctuid. The forewing color is basically gray, but if often suffused with dark gray, dull purple, or dull orange or orange-brown. The maculation is not terribly distinct, but the most distinctive features are a black filled reniform spot and a postmedial line consisting of two widely separated series of black dots. The antemedial line, when visible is a highly irregular, obscure black line. The orbicular spot is absent, or if present, is at most a small black dot. The subterminal line is a very diffuse patch, primarily indicated by a distinctly lighter terminal area. The terminal line usually consists of a series of black dashes which are sometimes fused together into a black line. The fringe is suffused with dark gray. The hindwing is white in both males and females, although a few individuals have a slightly amount of gray suffusion along the outer margin. The palpi have a dark patch on the outer side of the second segment and this patch contrasts with the white apex of the second segment and the entire third segment. The distinctive features of the male and female genitalia were described in the generic description. I have not made an exhaustive study of the neotropical material I have attributed to this species, and possibly one or more other species remain hidden within the material identified as triplex.
Distribution: This species has a wide distribution in
the tropical and subtropical regions of the New World. Although not based
on an sort of rigorous observations, the species seems to be commonest
in drier types of habitats such as shrub and grassland rather than tropical
forest. The species occurs throughout Central America and the Antilles.
It occurs throughout much of South America, but based on scattered material
has a patchier distribution than in the more northerly parts of its range.
In the United States the species is abundant in eastern Texas and southern
Florida. Micrathetis triplex has been taken as far north as eastern Kansas.
There is a distinctive and isolated population of triplex in southern
Identification Quality: Excellent
Foodplants: There are specimens in the USNM reared from sweet potato [Ipomoea batatas (Convolvulaceae)]. There is also an adult reared from "pupae found in the roots of Convolvulus (Convolvulacae).
Micrathetis new species 0001