Location: Systematic Entomology LaboratoryTitle: Description of a cryptic new species of the plant bug genus Eccritotarsus (Heteroptera: Miridae: Bryocorinae) from Peru, a new biocontrol agent of water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes (Pontederiaceae)
Submitted to: Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/14/2017
Publication Date: 8/21/2017
Citation: Henry, T.J. 2017. Description of a cryptic new species of the plant bug genus Eccritotarsus (Heteroptera: Miridae: Bryocorinae) from Peru, a new biocontrol agent of water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes (Pontederiaceae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 119(3):398-407.
Interpretive Summary: Plant bugs represent the largest family of true bugs and include numerous agriculturally important pests, causing enormous economic losses in the United States annually. One group of mostly tropical species is known to cause severe foliar discoloration and spotting that may eventually kill their hosts. In most cases, such insects would be considered pests, but the two species treated in this paper specialize in feeding on water hyacinth, a plant considered the world's worst aquatic weed. These two plant bugs originally were considered to be the same species by workers in South Africa where they are being used as biocontrol agents, but molecular sequencing data and breeding studies indicated that specimens from Peru probably represented a new species. Subsequent morphological study confirmed that an unidentified cryptic species was involved. This paper provides the description and illustrations of the new species from Peru and information on how to distinguish it from its closely related Brazilian sister species. This research will be of great interest to all workers involved in the biological control of water hyacinth.
Technical Abstract: The new plant bug Eccritotarsus eichhorniae is described from specimens taken on water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, in Maynas Province, Peru. This new species is extremely similar to Eccritotarsus catarinensis (Carvalho), a species described from Santa Catarina, Brazil. These two populations were considered conspecific until COI sequencing data and breeding studies indicated that the Peruvian material probably represented a new cryptic species. Subsequent morphological studies confirmed that two species were involved. In this paper diagnoses, descriptions, and illustrations of the adults, scent glands, and male genitalia are provided to distinguish these two closely related species, both of which are currently being used as biocontrol agents on water hyacinth in South Africa.