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Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: Synonymies of wasp-mimicking species within the katydid genus Aganacris (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Phaneropterinae)

item Nickle, David

Submitted to: Journal of Orthoptera Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/3/2012
Publication Date: 12/3/2012
Citation: Nickle, D.A. 2012. Synonymies of wasp-mimicking species within the katydid genus Aganacris (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Phaneropterinae). Journal of Orthoptera Research. 21(2):245-250.

Interpretive Summary: Bush katydids are exclusively plant-eating insects related to crickets and grasshoppers, some species of which are minor pests of crops, ornamentals, and fruit trees. Species of an unusual genus from Central and South America are mimics of large wasps. This study demonstrated that what were thought to be five species, each known from only one sex, are really two species. Two species known from males only are actually variants of the same species, and the species known from males only are the same as those known from females only. This effectively reduces the number of valid species names from five to two, thereby simplifying the systematics of this group of katydids and making sense of the biology of these species. This information will be of use to those needing to identify these katydids and biodiversity scientists.

Technical Abstract: Five neotropical wasp-mimicking species of the genus Aganacris—two known from females only and three from males only—are reviewed. Based on observations of interspecific interactions and morphological comparisons, sexual dimorphism is shown to occur within species, and that female species are conspecific with sympatric male species. This is reinforced by an observation in northern Peru of pair formation between A. pseudosphex and A. nitida, wherein the male was in the process of secreting a spermatophore. Aganacris sphex and A. pseudosphex are morphologically nearly identical and probably represent variants of a single species. Since species known from females only are both senior synonyms to sympatric male species, the number of species is reduced from five to two – A. nitida (A. pseudosphex and A. sphex designated herein as junior synonyms) and A. velutina (A. insectivora designated herein a junior synonym).