Submitted to: Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/24/2005
Publication Date: 1/5/2006
Citation: Wheeler, A.G.,Jr., Henry, T.J. 2005. Gampsocoris decorus (Uhler) and Metacanthus tenellus Stål (Hemiptera: Berytidae), Neotropical Stilt bugs as colonists of an African grass, Urochloa mutica (Poaceae), in Florida, with a review of berytid-grass associations. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 108:1-8. Interpretive Summary: Stilt bugs represent a relatively small family of both predaceous and phytophagous insects. Several species are serious pests of greenhouse crops such as tomatoes, whereas some are predators feedings on insects eggs, such as the tomato and tobacco hornworm. The hosts and habits are unknown for the majority of species. The host plants of two tropical stilt bugs whose U.S. distribution is limited to southern Texas and peninsular Florida, have been unknown or little known. We show that in Florida, both stilt bugs have colonized Pará grass, an invasive plant native to Africa. This information will be of interest to a wide array of scientists, extension personnel, and state departments of agriculture interested in biological control of invasive grasses, such as Pará grass.
Technical Abstract: Host plants of the Neotropical stilt bugs Gampsocoris decorus (Uhler) (subfamily Gampsocorinae) and Metacanthus tenellus Stål (subfamily Metacanthinae), whose U.S. distribution is limited to southern Texas and peninsular Florida, have been unknown or little known. In Florida, both berytids have colonized Pará grass (Urochloa mutica (Forssk.) T. Q. Nguyen; Poaceae), an invasive plant native to Africa. We collected G. decorus on Pará grass in 16 counties and M. tenellus in 17 counties. Pará grass is the first host plant recorded for G. decorus and first grass documented as a host for M. tenellus. Grass-feeding habits have evolved in three berytid clades and have been demonstrated for certain gampsocorines and metacanthines; grass feeding needs to be verified for berytine stilt bugs.