Wednesday 26 June 2013

Three new species of Ant-mimicking Mirid Bugs from central Thailand.

Mirid Bugs of the genus Pilophorus are found on every continent except Australia and South America. They are Mimics of Ants, and are commonly found living with Ants, suggesting the mimicry fools the Ants themselves, not just Ant-avoiding predators. Furthermore, unlike most Mirid Bugs, Pilophorus spp. are carnivorous, typically eating insects such as Aphids that ants often protect. They are used as biological controls of such pests in some parts of the world.

In a paper published in the American Museum Novitates on 15 February 2013, Tomohide Yasunaga and Randall Schuh of the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at American Museum of Natural History describe three new species of Pilophorus from Nakhon Nayok and Nakhon Ratchasima Provinces in central Thailand, discovered during a review of the genus in the country.

The first new species is named Pilophorus barbiger, where barbiger means bearded, referring to the dense setae (hairs) on the underside of the head. Pilophorus barbiger is a 3.1-3.6 mm, elongate, velvety, dark brown bug found living with an unidentified species of Ant on a variety of broadleaved trees.

Pilophorus barbiger (top) male and (bottom) female. Yasunaga & Schuh (2013).

The second new species is named Pilophorus giraffoides, due to its elongated and constricted protonum (front part of the thorax), which resembles the neck of a giraffe. This is a brownish bug 3-3.24 mm long. It's ecology is unknown, the specimens found were captured in light traps. 

Pilophorus giraffoides, female specimen. Yasunaga & Schuh (2013).

The final new species is named Pilophorus portentosus, where 'portentosus' means 'extraordinary' or 'monsterous', in reference to its unusually long antennae and legs. This is a 3.79 coffee-brown Bug, described from a single male specimen caught in a light trap.

 Pilophorus portentosus, male specimen. Yasunaga & Schuh (2013).

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