Submitted to: The Coleopterists Bulletin
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Flea beetles are important for U.S. agriculture both as crop pests and biological control agents of weeds. They constitute the largest leaf beetle subfamily containing more than 700 described genera and 8000 species. Species identification in most flea beetle genera is only possible with help of male and female genitalia. This paper discusses a history of the use of the genitalia in systematic studies of leaf beetles. It also describes structure, nomenclature, possible homology and functions of the female genitalia in flea beetles. This study will be important to taxonomists, ecologists, evolutionary biologists and persons involved in all aspects of homology assessments. It will be used by taxonomists who identify flea beetles for action agencies.
Structure, terminology and possible homology of female genitalia in flea beetles (Alticinae) are discussed. The relative position of the male and female genitalia was examined in a pair of Aphthona formosana Chen preserved in copulation. It is speculated that the vaginal palpi of the female genitalia and the median lobe of the male genitalia function together during copulations as an "internal courtship device" to regulate sperm transfer and egg fertilization.