Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Coccinellid subfamilies

At present there are 5+ pages of ladybeetles on the family level, many of which are known to subfamily if not tribe. I think it is time to insert at least subfamilies between family and genus. There are six subfamilies:

Any objections? Seeing none, I'll... Oh, okay. I'll give it a week or so :-)

Boris not in favor
See his comments on this page.

I'm also not in favor.
Three months ago a similar proposal to subdivide Heteroptera was acted upon and subsequently reversed because multiple users were against it.

We should keep in mind that BugGuide's target audience is the general public, not entomologists. The addition of Coccinellidae subfamilies would add yet another level of complexity to BugGuide, and likely cause additional confusion in the average user. To paraphrase the words of Roy Sigafus here: "Don't further confuse me with your gobbledygook."

The idea of adding more taxonomic levels also reminds me of the mites and ticks situation which was to be cleaned up by the end of March. There's no need for BugGuide to include any superfamilies in the Acari tree, let alone 71 superfamilies - 44 of which contain no photos and no information. Could we please have these removed without further delay, Jim?

Thanks for pointing out
that I didn't finish the job. I spent a couple hours removing taxa at a certain level (suborder?) that contained no images but as you indicate, there is another level to go.

We see all the genera when
we click on taxonomy under Coccinellidae, so we personally don't have any need for subfamilies based upon that. What happens when you add subfamilies is that we can no longer see the genera from the family page. In order to find the genus we want through taxonomy we have to click on every subfamily sequentially till we hit the right one, or we have to click on view all and open up every page in the family to scroll through and find the one we want. Coleopterists may know which subfamily a species is in, but most of the rest of us who use BugGuide do not.

Also we would definitely suggest not moving unidentified images from the family page to a subfamily or tribe page. We have interestingly just posted a forum topic on moths where we propose agreeing not to move any images to subfamily or tribe pages. The pages are fine if the families are large. Patrick has talked about how they really help him when he is BROWSing. But posting images to those pages ends in a confusing mess. The same species can end up on four or more pages depending on the knowledge of the person placing it. We would suggest that if the genus is not known, leave it on the family page. At least you know then where to look for unidentified images that way.

But that's just our opinion. It will be interesting to see how others respond to your post here and our post there. We're never quite sure what the consensus will be!

Following this line of reasoning
*no* family should have breakdowns by subfamily or tribe. This would make much of the help we receive from authorities around the world pointless since often they can classify no further than subfamily or tribe based on images. Can we say that only classification to genus or below is worth our while?

Instead of eschewing the genus-obscuring intermediate taxa, consider that they represent an opportunity to learn the (presumed) degree of relatedness of the various genera. I think there must be none who use bugguide more than the John and Jane team, so it would not surprise me if you are already conversant with the subfamily and tribe breakdowns in certain frequently-submitted taxa. Here is an opportunity to better learn the ladybeetles.

Deciding on subfamily ranks for BugGuide
Choice of ranks between family and genus that are deemed practical for sorting photographic images really depends on the size of the family and the visual differences that exist between the subgroups. In the case of the very large family Carabidae, there are easily seen characters that distinguish the "tribes" and so it makes good sense that carabid tribes are recognized at BugGuide. However, degrees of taxonomic stability need to be considered. At least for Carabidae, the status of "subfamilies" is currently in a state of flux. Despite the attempted carabid systematics published in American Beetles (Chapter 6, 2001), any two carabid specialists today are more apt to disagree on supratribal classification.

Why we may need it
There's one other reason to have extra levels not mentioned yet: sometimes there are characters that allow ID to an intermediate level, but no further. If you don't have a node for that taxon, than you have a major disconnect between the information in the IDs and its representation in the taxonomic tree.

I don't know enough to be sure, but I have a hunch that many of the "Cryptolaemus montrouzieri" larval images are really related genera in the tribe Scymnini or the subfamily Scyminae- for one thing, the texture and shape of the waxy growths looks different. What's more, I've seen lots of these critters in my yard eating aphids- which Cryptolaemus montrouzieri aren't supposed to like. Add to that the fact that I've never seen an adult Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, but I have seen what was IDed as probably a Scymnus adult.

Assuming for a moment that I'm right (not a foregone conclusion): without a subfamily page, we're left with the choice of either dumping these uncertain ones in with a sea of unidentified Coccinellid images or leaving them in a place where they don't belong.

like the main objection to adding subfamilies / tribes etc is that they become nodes that need to be navigated. Maybe the answer is to upgrade the browse views or make subfamilies, tribe appear but not be actual nodes. So if you go to a famliy - your browse view shows only genera - separated by subfamilies/tribes titles that aren't actually nodes.