Thursday, June 16, 2016

A new burrower bug: Amnestus mendeli

Not much is known about members of the true bug family Cynidae or burrower bugs. As their names indicates they are burrowing through the soil and their legs are well adapted for the digging. The legs of most Cydnidae are armed with strong spines and in some species both head and legs may also be flattened. Their diet includes the roots of plants, stems or seeds that have fallen upon the ground.

Burrower bugs are not regarded as significant pests. Only 27 of the 750 species have been reported as crop pests, six of them are thought to feed on peanut. The new species, collected on Ascension Island, was named after its collector, Howard Mendel.

For the experts: A new species of the genus Amnestus Dallas, 1851, Amnestus mendeli, is described from the cloud zone of Green Mountain, Ascension Island, and compared with its closest relatives, the Brazilian Amnestus lenkoi Froeschner, 1975 and Amnestus pequinus Froeschner, 1975. It is the first representative of the family Cydnidae recorded on the island thus far. The species is presumed to be an introduction from the Americas, but the hypothesis that it might be endemic to Ascension Island is also not excluded.

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