Forest ghost moth fauna of northeastern India (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae: Endoclita, Palpifer, and Hepialiscus)

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John R. Grehan
Vijay Anand Ismavel


Taxonomic and biological information is reviewed for the forest Hepialidae of northeastern India, a poorly known group of moths in a region known for the global significance of its biodiversity.  The taxonomic and biological characteristics are described for genera known from the northeast - Endoclita, Palpifer, and Hepialiscus. A key is provided for distinguishing these genera and the genus Thitarodes known from nearby Bhutan, China, and Nepal, which is almost certainly present within the borders of India.  Taxonomic characteristics are described for 12 species from the northeast along with illustrations of the species and maps of their known distributions.  Information on species distributions is extremely fragmentary and it is considered very likely that most species have more extensive distributions than currently documented.  The northeastern Indian region represents a center of hepialid diversity comprising three principal distribution patterns: (i) local endemics, (ii) Himalayan, and (iii) northeastern.  Comparison of distribution records and major vegetation types indicate the absence of information on the hepialid fauna for much of the northeast region.  The principal challenge for future documentation and assessment of the hepialid fauna for this region, as with any other part of India, is the lack of modern descriptions of type specimens.  The inclusion of voucher collections of Hepialidae in future biodiversity surveys of northeastern India is to be strongly encouraged, particularly in the context of current and future environmental impacts affecting the sustainability of forest environments in the region. 

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Author Biographies

John R. Grehan, Research Associate, Section of Invertebrate Zoology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA

Retired researcher. Specialist on the biology and taxonomy of Hepialidae (see

Vijay Anand Ismavel, Makunda Christian Hospital, Bazaricherra, Karimganj District, Assam 788727, India

Pediatric surgeon working in a remote rural mission hospital and interested in the documentation of biodiversity, especially in the Barak Valley of Assam bordering Mizoram, Tripura and Bangladesh. Founder of “Makunda Nature Clubâ€.  Observations recorded at


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