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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Biodiversity of the Heteroptera

item Henry, Thomas

Submitted to: Insect Biodiversity: Science and Society
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/3/2008
Publication Date: 3/12/2009
Citation: Henry, T.J. 2009. Biodiversity of the Heteroptera. In: Foottit, R. G., Adler, P. H., editors. Insect Biodiversity: Science and Society. Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 223-263.

Interpretive Summary: True bugs are the fifth largest and one of the most diverse insect groups. Knowledge of their diversity is important for their roles as plant feeders, blood-sucking parasites, arthropod predators, and as water-quality indicators. Many species, such as lygus bugs, cotton fleahopper, and sunn pests, are major agricultural pests causing billions of dollars damage to crops each year. A large number of other species feed on other insects and mites, making them important biological control agents in crop systems. One relatively small group of species, commonly called conenoses, feeds on vertebrate blood, including that of humans and are important vectors of Chagas’s disease, a life threatening tropical disease that occasionally occurs in the southern United States. Aquatic bugs, found in both fresh and salt water, are important water-quality indicators, whereas many others serve as an important source of food for fish and other aquatic animals. This chapter treats each of the 89 known families of true bugs, providing an overview of their body structure, size, habits, and importance to agriculture, and brings the world species count to 42,300, an increase of 3,000 over previous estimates. This information will be of great importance to all researchers working almost any aspect of aquatic and terrestrial true bugs.

Technical Abstract: Previous estimates on the number of Heteroptera, or true bugs, in the world have ranged from 38,000 to 39,000 species. This paper provides an updated documentation of the numbers of genera and species in the world, as well as a breakdown for the Australian, Nearctic, and Palearctic regions. For each of the 89 known families, a brief diagnosis of the group, general information on their habits and distribution, and an estimate on the number of genera and species in the world are given. Based on a review of the literature and a search of Zoological Record through 2007, more than 5,800 genera and 42,300 species of Heteroptera have been described.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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