This study describes the molecular phylogeny, laboratory rearing, and karyotype of a bombycid moth, Trilocha varians (F. Walker) (Lepidoptera: Bombycidae), which feeds on leaves of Ficus spp. (Rosales: Moraceae). The larvae of this species were collected in Taipei city, Taiwan, and the Ryukyu Archipelago (Ishigaki and Okinawa Islands, Japan). Molecular phylogenetic analyses revealed that T. varians belongs to the subfamily Bombycinae, thus showing a close relationship to the domesticated silkworm Bombyx mori (L.), a lepidopteran model insect. A laboratory method was developed for rearing T. varians and the time required for development from the embryo to adult was determined. From oviposition to adult emergence, the developmental zero was 10.47°C and total effective temperature was 531.2 daydegrees, i.e., approximately 30 days for one generation when reared at 28°C. The haploid of T. varians consisted of n = 26 chromosomes. In highly polyploid somatic nuclei, females showed a large heterochromatin body, indicating that the sex chromosome system in T. varians is WZ/ZZ (female/male). The results of the present study should facilitate the utilization of T. varians as a reference species for B. mori, thereby leading to a greater understanding of the ecology and evolution of bombycid moths.
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