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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #396015

Research Project: Systematics of Acari and Hemiptera: Plant Pests, Predators, and Disease Vectors

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: A Neotropical complex of Ripersiella species (Hemiptera: Coccomorpha: Rhizoecidae) collected from the nests of Acropyga ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

item Schneider, Scott
item JOHN, LAPOLLA - Towson University

Submitted to: ZooKeys
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/7/2022
Publication Date: 9/29/2022
Citation: Schneider, S.A., John, L.S. 2022. A Neotropical complex of Ripersiella species (Hemiptera: Coccomorpha: Rhizoecidae) collected from the nests of Acropyga ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). ZooKeys. 1123:1-30.

Interpretive Summary: Root mealybugs are a critically understudied group of scale insects, despite their potential, and often demonstrated, importance to agriculture. The group is relatively understudied due to their underground habit, but they are known to feed on important crops such as banana, coffee, and cacao, and their populations are often protected from natural enemies by associated ants. This study describes 5 new species of root mealybugs that associate with ants; it expands our knowledge about infrequently encountered root mealybugs with potential agricultural significance and provides an updated guide to their identification. Furthermore, it provides insights into the evolution of obligatory relationships between groups of scale insects and ants, which has significance not only to agricultural research but to basic scientific research about the ecology of mutualisms.

Technical Abstract: We describe five new Neotropical species of Ripersiella living in association with Acropyga ants in this article: R. campensis sp. nov., R. illicians sp. nov., R. montanae sp. nov., R. pediandensis sp. nov., and R. telalia sp. nov. Along with R. andensis and R. colombiensis, these species form a morphologically similar group that we informally refer to as the andensis-complex of Ripersiella. Every member of the andensis-complex is either confirmed or suspected to engage in mutualism with Acropyga ants. We discuss the implications of these associations and provide an identification key to the Neotropical species of Ripersiella that are lacking bitubular cerores, including the new species.