Comprehensive Description

provided by Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology
Bassaris itea (Fabricius), resurrected combination

Papilio itea Fabricius, 1775, p. 498; 1787, p. 45; 1793, p. 103.

Bassaris itea.—Hübner, [1821], pl. [24].—Scudder, 1875, p. 126.—Hemming, 1967, p. 74.

Vanessa itea.—Godart, 1819, p. 321.—Boisduval, 1832, pp. 121–122.—Doubleday, 1844, p. 78.—Dale, 1890, p. 150.—Hudson, 1898, pp. 107–108, pl. 12: figs. 3, 4; 1928, pp. 35–36, pl. 4: fig. 8.—Verity, 1950, p. 329.—Gaskin, 1966, p. 88, pl. 1: fig. [6].—Burnes, 1969, pp. 80, 82, fig. 59.—Pritchard, 1969, p. 12.

Pyrameis itea.—Doubleday, 1849, p. 204.—Trimen, 1862–1866, p. 118.—Butler, 1870, p. 78.—Semper, 1878, p. 148.—Kirby, 1871, p. 185.—Staudinger, 1885, p. 98.—Mathew, 1888, pp. 145–146, pl. 6: fig. 10.—Dixey, 1890, p. 113.—Miskin, 1891, p. 39.—Fruhstorfer, 1898b, p. 151.—Waterhouse, 1903, p. 11.—Reuss, 1910c, pp. 85, 88.—Fruhstorfer, 1912a, p. 526, pl. 117: figs, E 1, D 5; 1921b, p. 526, pl. 117: figs, E 1, D 5.—Waterhouse and Lyell, 1914, p. 55, pl. 5: fig. 34.—Barrett and Burnes, 1951, pp. 134–135.

MALE (Figures 81, 82).—Upper surface of forewing with ground color of apical and outer half dark brown, almost black, and containing a subapical bar of yellow or yellowish white opposite end of cell; with four subapical white spots between costa and vein R5 and in interspace M2; base of wing reddish brown suffused with dull gold; with a black bar through middle of cell and with a large yellow band lying over middle of wing from costa to anal vein.

Hindwing on upper surface with apical area and outer margin dark brown, almost black; with cell area and area between vein M2 and first anal vein colored reddish brown; base of wing suffused with dull gold and with four small submarginal ocular spots pupillated with blue, lying between veins M1 and Cu2. The ocular spot lying in interspace M1, is at least partially obscured by the dark brown color of the apical part of the wing.

Under surface of forewing with most of the pattern of the upper surface repeated, with much gray in the apex; with a blue circle between the yellow subapical bar and the yellow band of middle of the wing; base of cell reddish brown in color and base on interspace Cu2 and anal margin dark brown.

Under surface of hindwing intricately lined and mottled with shades of black, dark brown, gray, and lilac and with a series of five obscure submarginal dark ocular spots between veins R5 and Cu2.

Length of forewing, 23–31 mm (average 26.3 mm).

Male genitalia as illustrated by Figure 6 (drawn from my preparation no. 3655), with distal end of uncus rounded in lateral view, much as in B. gonerilla; gnathos downward directed and quite similar to B. gonerilla; aedeagus differing from that species in having a spadelike distal end; valva with dorsal margin nearly straight, with a slight lobe beyond middle near apex, and with a large upward directed lobe at apex; clasper a large, long, and finger-like lobe, downward directed so that it can and sometimes does cover the cuiller; cuiller with a large swollen base, which is anteriorly toothed, greatly reduced and constricted beyond middle, upward bent, smooth, and spikelike.

FEMALE (Figures 83, 84).—Hardly differing from the male sex except in having the outer margin of hindwing slightly more rounded and in having the area on either side of vein Cu2 on the forewing slightly more produced outwardly.

Length of forewing, 23–30 mm (average 27.3 mm).

Female genitalia as illustrated by Figure 22 (drawn from my preparation no. 6273), with seventh sternite only slightly sclerotized through the central area; eighth sternite with pod-shaped structure surrounding the ostium bursae, with wing-shaped lateral plates, and without the deep lateral pouches found in B. gonerilla; signa very long and narrow.

METHOD OF IDENTIFICATION.—The type locality is New Zealand. A single original male specimen, the holotype, is in the collection of the British Museum (Natural History) and bears the type number Rh. 8719. The original description of Fabricius (1775, p. 498) is adequate to identify the name Bassaris itea for the species treated here.

LIFE HISTORY.—The larval food plant is Urtica incisa (Urticaceae).

Brief life-history notes were given by Hudson (1928, p. 35), Barrett and Burnes (1951, p. 135 and figures of larva and pupa, p. 134), and Gaskin (1966, p. 88).

DISTRIBUTION.—This species is found in Australia, Tasmania, Norfolk Island, New Zealand, Loyalty Islands, and on Rapa in the Tabuai Islands. In Australia it occurs in northeast Queensland near Herberton and from MacKay, Queensland, south to Victoria and west to Adelaide in South Australia and also in the southwest part of Western Australia. In New Zealand it is more widely distributed in North Island than in South Island.

MATERIAL STUDIED.—Eighteen males and twenty-three females were studied from the following localities: QUEENSLAND: Atherton (January); Brisbane. NEW SOUTH WALES: Colo Vale (January). VICTORIA: Newmarket (September, November); Sandringham. NORFOLK ISLAND (October). NORTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND: Haumoana, Hawkes Bay (February). RAPA: Haurei (November).
bibliographic citation
Field, William Dewitt. 1971. "Butterflies of the genus Vanessa and of the resurrected genera Bassaris and Cynthia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)." Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. 1-105. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.00810282.84