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Psylloidea - Aphalaroida masonici

Psylloidea - Aphalaroida masonici
J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Lee County, Florida, USA
December 21, 2015

Moved from Psylloidea.

Host appears to be Lysiloma l
Host appears to be Lysiloma latisiliquum.

Probably Aphalaroida masonici
Some background:

The two principal North American genera associated with Mimosoid legumes are Heteropsylla & Aphalaroida, both of which were treated comprehensively in recent publications ((1)(2)). Heteropsylla comprises about 40 mostly neotropical species, with 8 species in the USA and 6 in neotropical Florida, while Aphalaroida consists of 9 mostly Prosopis-feeding species, 7 of those in the southwestern USA, 1 in neotropical Florida, and another from Mexico/Costa Rica.

The nymphs of Heteropsylla were treated in depth by Muddiman et al(1), with over 20 species described and illustrated. From that treatment, it becomes clear that Heteropsylla nymphs have relatively long antennae and lack the sort of setae that your nymph does, and so there can be ruled out. Unfortunately, Hodkinson(2) does not discuss the nymphs of Aphalaroida, but White & Hodkinson (1985), based on a study of the nymphs of two of the southwestern Prosopis-feeding species, give a list of confirmatory characters to the genus. It is impossible to know whether those characters hold true to the rest of the Aphalaroida, let alone the neotropical species, but is still worth examining. Unfortunately, most of the confirmatory characters are either not visible here (such as the nature of the tarsal arolium), or are very precise measurements and ratios that are difficult to accurately gauge without a straight dorsal shot. However, one thing we can clearly see here that is consistent is that the antennae are seven-segmented and much shorter than the forewing pads (Hodkinson & White give the antennae-length-to-forewing-pad-length ratio as being no greater than 0.77). In contrast, Heteropsylla have 9-segmented antennae which are at least as long as the forewing pads, often longer.

Looking at the genus Aphalaroida then are seven primarily-Prosopis feeding southwestern species which can probably safely be disgarded, and two neotropical species, only one of which, A. masonici, has been reported from Florida. However, the other neotropical species, Aphalaroida lysilomae, though only known only from Mexico and Costa Rica, is worth mentioning since as its name implies is associated with Lysiloma. In contrast, A. masonici was originally described from "Acacia" in 1940. However, this is misleading since during that time "Acacia" was used to encompass a number of Mimosoid legumes from all over the world as opposed to the strict definition today in which Acacia refers to mostly Australian plants. Since Caldwell only listed the genus, it is unfortunately impossible to know what plant he was referring to as "Acacia", though it most certainly wasn't Acacia.

This would have been where I would have reached a dead end just a few months ago, but the most recently published issue of Florida Triology (Vol 55-3) reported incidence of Aphalaroida masonici during the July-September 2016 period, on the host Lysiloma latisiliquum. Given that A. masonici is apparently more closely related to A. lysilomae than it is to other Aphalaroida, it is unsurprising that the two would be recorded from plants in the same genus. It's worth noting that historically the plant has been referred to as Acacia latisiliqua, meaning that it's very well possible that this was the "Acacia" Caldwell originally referred to.

In short, this appears to be an Aphalaroida in the masonici/lysilomae group, and while it may be the latter, it seems less plausible that this is a new USA record given that A. masonici has been recently recorded from Florida from this very host. For these reasons, I think what we are dealing with here is A. masonici.

My apologies for the excessively long comment!



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