Coutada 11 & Zerenopsis flavimaculata

While in Coutada 11 Mozambique, May-July 2021, we found an unrecognizable Geometrid. The photograph was forwarded to Hermann Staude, a specialist for African Geometrids, and he identified it as Zerenopsis flavimaculata. It was described by Hermann and Pasi Sihvonen in 2014, based on two specimens caught over a hundred years ago from southern Malawi. Another specimen was also located by them but was slightly different from the two types and the locality given was just Mozambique. No further information on the species was known.

The small series of females, nine specimens, collected at C11 fits very closely to the specimen excluded from the type series also a female (Fig. 1c). As no males were collected in the field it suggests the male has a very different flight behaviour to the female. It is likely the males fly high in or on the canopy and probably form leks on the forest canopy.

As there are some morphological differences between the two types of specimens and the Mozambique specimens, we cannot be completely sure it is the same species until comparisons between the male genitalia of the type and the population in C11 are made.

As no males were captured this meant another method of obtaining males had to be investigated. One way would be to breed specimens. On inquiry to the food plant of the genus Zerenopsis, Hermann informed us the genus bred on the Cycad family and possibly the genus Stangeria. After searching no Stangeria or other Cycads could be found. When observing females it was noticed, they paid particular attention to Acridocarpus chloropterus. On careful examination of the plant larva resembling Zerenopsis were located. Over the next weeks at various localities in C11 further eggs and larvae were obtained.  This larva was bred through to adults and both males and females were obtained (Fig 2.). This will now allow us to continue the research on the species to see if it is this rare species or possibly an undescribed species.