Distribution of Prototheora. See Davis (1996, 2001) for details
Prototheora petrosema. Image courrtesy of John Nielsen
Distribution Southern Africa: Angola, South Africa, Malawi. Two main centers of distribution: the Cape Center (Capensis) and the Eastern Highland Center (Afromontane) with most species in the former. The distribution of Prototheora in these areas may be correlated with Mesozoic and early Caenozoic tectonics and sea level transgressions (Davis, 1996).
Habitat Most species are from Capensis and Afromontane habitats. The Angola species is recorded from a region that is largely savannah with deciduous miombo woodland concentrated in vavines and steeper, wetter slopes (Davis, 1996).
Systematics Revised by Davis (1999). Distinguished from other Hepialoidea by retention of plesiomorphic three segmented maxillary palpi. Possible synapomorphies are the lateral sclerotizatin of the suspensorium and the extreme development of a conjugal process from sternum IX of the female. Pupae have only a single row of abdominal spines on A3-7 (Davis, 1996).
Biology Development of immature stages unknown. Adults are attracted to light. Prototheora malawiensis has been observed flying rapidly un th eaftgernoon over a grassy meadow at 2,000 m elevation. A single pupa is recorded “in moss”, apparently without an enclosing tube or tunnel. Adults fly from mid-January to May (mid summer to Autumn) in South Africa. The Angloa record is from November, a date possibly correlated with more tropical conditions (Davis, 2001).
References Davis, D.R. 1996. A revision of the southern African family Prototheoridae (Lepidoptera: Hepialoidea). Entomologica Scandinavica 27, 393-440. Davis, D.R. 2001. A new species of Prototheora from Malawi, with additional notes on the distribution and morphology of the genus (Lepidoptera: Prototheoridae). Procedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 103, 452-456.
Prototheora cooperi Janse, 1942 (Davis, p. 418) South Africa Lectotype: DITSONG National Museum of Natural History Flight: March (Davis, 1996)
United States National Museum. Image courtesy of Don Harvey.Data label