Two Stilt Bug Species Discovered
A diverse group of insects known as stilt bugs are both friend and
foe to our agricultural crops. And two new ones have just been discovered.
Worldwide, stilt bugs are a relatively small group of unusual hemipterans,
or true bugs, in the family Berytidae. They possess long, slender legs,
leathery front wings, and membranous hind wings. Most notably, their
legs and antennae are often longer than their bodies.
Stilt bugs range in size from only about 2 millimeters, such as the
species Hoplinus scutellaris, to the 16-millimeter Plyapomus
longus. While some members of the Berytidae family are beneficial
and prey on crop pests such as aphids, mites, cotton budworm, and tomato
hornworm, others are serious pests of tomato, cotton, and cacao.
Recently, Agricultural Research Service
entomologist Thomas J. Henry studied two species of the genus Yemmatropis,
including previously known Y. dispar. Reported only in China,
Nepal, and Thailand, this species has now been found in Malaysia and
Henry has also described a species new to science from VietnamY.
erectus. He found this predatory stilt bug at the Bernice Bishop
Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii, among specimens that had been collected
by scientists during a faunal survey of Southeast Asia.
Another new species recognized by Henry, H. paulai, like most
stilt bugs, is poorly known. The genus Hoplinus is found from
the western United States and Canada south to Argentina and southern
Brazil and Chile, but H. paulai is known only from the state
of Minas Gerais, Brazil.
While many stilt bugs are phytophagous, meaning they eat plants, others
are predaceous, meaning they feed on other, usually smaller insects.
Some of these insect-eating bugs are recognized as important predators
in agricultural ecosystems. But despite the small size of this insect
family and the abundance of some of its members, the habits and hosts
of most species remain something of a mystery.
Henry says recognition of these stilt bugs will assist quarantine and regulatory agencies in halting potentially important foreign species from entering the United States.By Jennifer Arnold, formerly with ARS.
This research is part of Crop Protection and Quarantine, an ARS
National Program (#304) described on the World Wide Web at http://www.nps.ars.usda.gov.
Thomas J. Henry is
with the USDA-ARS Systematic
Entomology Laboratory, c/o National Museum of Natural History, 10th
St. & Constitution Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20560; phone (202)
382-1780, fax (202) 786-9422.
"Two Stilt Bug Species Discovered" was published in the July 2002 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.