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Isoptera

Seeing as recent (within the past year or two...) findings have declared termites to be members of the order/suborder Blattaria, should we still keep the termites in their old traditional order, 'Isoptera', or should we have it changed to match the current, up-to date findings?
Here's a link to one article on the research: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6553219.stm

I'm a little late coming into this discussion, didn't see it;
however, I'm going to throw in my two cents worth. Doesn't mean anything has to change, just expressing an opinion - not really interested in ruffling feathers, but at the risk of doing just that, here-goes.

I just noticed that Dictyoptera vanished (don't look at it often). Wondered what happened, but figured it out. Actually the current classification that I see being adopted by most workers would have Roaches, Mantids, and Termites as one order Dictyoptera, with the major components as suborders. Molecular studies as well as morphological show no obvious reason for splitting them. [I was thinking about suggesting Isoptera be moved under Dictyoptera for consistency.] Of course it is a ranking issue, and a matter of opinion as to what an order should represent. To me the massive break up of Orthoptera represents a mostly past fad (largely dating to the 50's thru 70's) which some, but not most authors followed, and a few still follow. Some of the changes have stuck, but many have not. At it's extreme, some of the Orthopterists in Europe got particularly carried away (subfamilies of Acrididae - Grasshoppers - having even been elevated to superfamilies or even superorders by some authors!). Anyway, with the Orthopteroids sensu latu (= superorder Polyneoptera), it had gotten to the point where there had at times been a ridiculous number of orders recognized by some minority of authors.

In reality, a Mantid is just a specialized Roach, modified for efficiently catching other insects. The actual differences are very minor. It's about the same level of difference as an Assassin Bug compared to a Pentomid or a Water Bug, and it's more difference than an Aphid or Cicada as compared to an Assassin Bug. Yet, most authors now lump Homoptera and Hemiptera together as one order (actually I balked at this a bit, but it's quite logical). Similarly a Termite is basically a Roach specialized and somewhat simplified to live in a colony and feed on wood.

Anyway, if we do this splitting, then to be consistent, we should have Damselfly vs. Dragonfly as separate orders. We should have separate Cricket, Katydid, and Grasshopper Orders. We may has well have Ants, Bees, Sphecids, etc. in their own orders too. Lepidoptera would be at least three or four orders, and so would Beetles, Neuroptera, and so on. The Order level should be for basic very fundamentally different groups. Roaches, Mantids, and even Termites differ little more than most families in other orders differ from one another.

So, this was a bit late coming, but there's my objections in a nut shell, and I feel a bit better because I've expressed it. I prefer to be consistency from group to group across the board, as nearly as possible, as well as consistency through time. I do admit that Blattodea+Isoptera+Mantodea are fundamentally distinct enough (marginally) from other Orthopteroid orders to deserve recognition as an order. So, I'm not quite so old school as to favor only one mega-Orthoptera order for all Polyneoptera, but I am rather conservative when it comes to too much splitting.

OK, that's my little rant in condensed form.

I would have favored John Carlson's proposal dated August 5, 2005.

Best wishes to all. :0)

By the way the new Blattodea, Isoptera, and Mantodea pages look good.

 
same problem with Mecoptera
i wonder if we should raise the same issue re: Mecoptera (argued to be paraphyletic because the Boreidae are allegedly more closely related to fleas than to the rest of panorpoid lineages)

 
Fleas
I agree that it would be good to place a note to this effect on the info pages, but not yet make the changes to the taxonomic structure on BugGuide. I think that the orders will be merged, but there is so much yet to be worked out. Also, I thought frequently about termite/cockroach relationships by 5 August 2005, and spoke frequently about my viewpoints at that time. I believe that David’s reference to my proposal on that date is valid based on his psychic abilities that some entomologists seem to have.

 
notes added
i added a few words to the Mecoptera and Boreidae pages; feel free to edit to make the language more precise and relevant.

 
thanks Dave for contributing your precious 2¢
I added some language to the 'Remarks' section on the mantid info page in an attempt to summarize this discussion. It would be great if you and other stakeholders review and improve that note.

[John Carlson's proposal is dated 8/5/2009, not 2005]

 
Thanks =v= for correcting Dave's date error...
...I was looking all over the place for John Carlson's post and couldn't find it! (*smile*)

And as long as we're mentioning small crxs, =v= meant for his mantid info page reference to link here.

Fascinating discussion, guys! I don't know enough to participate, but I sure am learning a lot by following along.

 
sorry about the date,
didn't even notice the wrong year. It's an old topic, but not that old!

We would agree.
Anyone who was opposed to the changes has had more than enough time to say so, and we haven't noticed any opposition. Go for it.

 
Okay...
I've created orders Blattodea and Mantodea and moved all the images there. I'll wait for John Carlson's input before doing anything with Isoptera.

 
Thanks Charley
I'm in full agreement. I've been through the Isoptera images that aren't in families twice and moved the ones that I was fairly certain of. There are a few more series that I think can be moved, but wanted to take more time with, and others that will probably never be identifiable. Others would be if more information on size and location were included. A few have terrible resolution, although I have a hard time frassing things for some reason. It may be some time before I can finish this, so if you want to set up the new sub-order and just move (or frass) images as appropriate, it would probably be better than waiting for me.

Also, with all the moves of termites and roaches I've been doing, there are bound to be some errors. I started out making comments justifying the moves, but then I got a bit lazy, especially with the termites, most of which can probably be placed in a genus by a real termite person. If anyone disagrees with any of my IDs, feel free to move as you deem appropriate.

 
speedy movers...
2 hours and 25 minutes after this post, and there's not a single image left in "Mantodeasuborder." Good teamwork, that was fast.

 
Thanks for the help!
Termites have all been moved now too, so I think we can consider this forum topic resolved, until there are further developments...

 
deleting obsolete pages Dictyoptera and below
Well, I am very late to this discussion--good job on this reorganization. I see that there are three obsolete pages that need to be deleted:
Order Dictyoptera, and below it:
-Suborder Mantids
-Suborder Blattaria
Perhaps I missed something, but I cannot delete any of those three, even though there are no images under any of them. (I even started with the lowest taxonomic level, and they won't allow deletion.) Was this problem discussed previously? Can these be deleted?

Note that I renamed the Order Dictyoptera page so that the beetle genus Dictyoptera could be given its proper name.

 
Deleting obsolete pages
The problem is that there are books or links placed in those sections, and we have no way of moving them elsewhere. Presumably an admin would be able to do this. I believe there has already been at least one post on the "website problems and suggestions" forum requesting that editors be given the ability to move books and links around.

 
thanks!
Right, thanks, Charley, I should have remembered that.

 
my deepest gratitude for taking care of the homonymy
Patrick--
i'm indebted! [i feel so dumb about my failure to do exactly that long time ago]

How about...
Why don't we follow the taxonomy of Blattodea Species File and Mantodea Species File. This would mean we:
-Delete Dictyoptera and elevate Mantodea and Blattodea (currently Blattaria) to order level. (In other words, Dictyoptera becomes a superorder, but we wouldn't have a page for it since we don't for Neuropterida.)
-Create a "no taxon" group within Blattodea for termites. Blattodea Species File puts the termite families within an "epifamily" called Termitoidae; this is one of three epifamilies within superfamily Blattoidea. (I don't see any need to create superfamily pages, but we could show these relationships on the Mantodea guide page.) This is the scheme proposed in this article (see cladogram at bottom of page), in response to criticism of the authors' original plan to put all termites in a single family, Termitidae.

Does anyone object to this? I think we should at least do the first part, which takes care of termites not being within Dictyoptera. I don't think there would be any harm in doing the second part, because it would cause no disruption in our current termite taxonomy, apart from having to move all the images that are currently at order level, which we've been talking about doing anyway (and there are fewer and fewer to deal with, as John Carlson continues to move these to family pages). It would put termites in their undisputed (yes?) place within cockroaches, without committing to an exact placement within Blattodea. As a "no taxon," we could move the group later as needed.

 
Clickable guide
How many changes to the BugGuide programming will be needed to keep the Clickable guide working, just Termites?

 
Good point
No, cockroaches and mantids too, because you can't just move suborders to order level. I'll email John VanDyk and ask him how hard this would be to fix... Maybe we could also get the dragonfly icon to go to Odonata and the butterfly icon to a "no taxon butterflies" that included skippers? I know others have suggested that. To me it's just as easy to follow the links from the Anisoptera and Papilionoidea guide pages.

 
I agree
with the other changes. I was one of the others suggesting them :-)

 
likewise :-)
I think I started the "can the clickable butterfly go to butterflies and skippers?" thread, which became alarmingly ginormous to a just-minted editor. Whereupon I fled back to Coccinellidae...

 
Clickable guide
John V. says it would be no problem to change the links, so once we've agreed on the changes and made the new pages, we can just let him know what the new nodes are. How long should we wait? This Isoptera discussion has been going on for over a year, so it seems like anyone who cares to weigh in has had an opportunity to do so. If we can get consensus among the folks who are subscribed to this forum, and anyone else who happens to chime in, I think we should go ahead and do it. No one seemed to object to the suggestions regarding butterflies and odonates when that was brought up before (here), but maybe someone should start a new post just on that topic? I can't really see why there would be any opposition to it, but you never know.

 
Updated
The clickable guide has been updated to point to the new mantid, roach, and termite pages.

 
I think
The Anisoptera -> Odonata change seems either harmless or very helpful.
The butterflies change is slightly more complicated depending on how we treat the relationships of butterflies/skippers/moths. I like a new "Butterflies and Skippers" page.

 
well, whatever skippers are...
...I don't see why they shouldn't be accessible from the Clickable Guide. Clicking on the butterfly and having to go up a level to get to skippers is frustrating, and it's even worse for people who don't know there is such a thing as a skipper and are unfamiliar with the way the site works and how to use the breadcrumbs and taxonomy tree.

I'm not telling that to you specifically, since we've both discussed this quite a bit, but I figure I'll state my case again for anyone following this thread.

Isoptera and Dictyoptera
Isoptera is still separate from Dictyoptera, so I'm just posting a reminder. I don't see a good reason not to include Isoptera within Blattaria... but if they must be separate orders, they both MUST be within Dictyoptera. Currently BG has Dictyoptera including roaches and mantises, but it needs to include termites regardless of the roach/termite battle.

 
Proposal
BugGuide tends to be conservative with big moves if there isn’t someone that works in the area to direct the moves. As I noted before, the current arrangement with Dictyoptera as an Order, and not containing Isoptera is unusual- I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. As a conservative move, I propose that for now we move Isoptera to being a suborder of Order Dictyoptera, keeping Mantodea and Blattaria as suborders. This will cause no other disruptions in the BugGuide taxonomy that I am aware of. I am certain that there will big changes to come, but this may be years away before the taxonomic levels of Isoptera etc. are agreed upon. Let’s give it a couple of months for comments before making any moves.

 
This would be a relatively easy change to make
You would first have to change the name of the current order, Isoptera. We don't think BugGuide will allow you to name a Suborder Isoptera if you already have an Order of that name. Then create a Suborder Isoptera under Order Dictyoptera. Tag and move the four families that are under Isoptera from their current position to their new one. The big work will be tagging and moving the hundred images under Isoptera that have not yet been placed in one of those four families. This would be made much easier if someone who knows the Isoptera could move those images into the families first. Then the images will move right over with the families. Then copy the info from the old Order Info page to the new Suborder page and delete the old order that you renamed.

This topic has been up for over a year without any negative feedback, so we don't know how much longer you need to wait.

 
Images
If no one sorts them, should we make the changes anyway? Everyone gets a move comment for this reason instead of for proper placement. I don't mind doing all of the tagging and moving. Anyone want to split the work and make the new page and copy the info over?

 
Make a move!
I agree... why wait? No one in the world things termites aren't dictyopterans! There is just no reason not to at least do that. Frankly, while the monophyly of Dictyoptera is sound, I wasn't aware it was commonplace to consider it an order, and not a superorder... so for me, having three separate orders (Mantodea, Blattaria, and Isoptera) solves the problem too. I like the idea that BG reflects currently recognized ordinal groupings like Dictyoptera, but that is silly if you don't actually recognize real ordinal groupings (like Dictyoptera including termites). Well, I think I've given my two cents anyway :)

Tripplehorn not convinced?
The latest issue of American Entomologist (2009, Vol 55(2) pp 76-80) had an article by Charles Tripplehorn reviewing the progressive changes of Introduction to the Study of Insects from early editions to the current one. In his article he states:

“Interestingly, there is some sentiment for combining the orders Isoptera and Blattaria, largely because of the genus Cryptocera (now considered a cockroach) has cellulose-digesting protozoa, which are characteristic of termites. I feel we must think long and hard before accepting this move.”

I think he is being overly inclusive by say that “we” need to think long and hard. It’s the termite/roach people that need to work out how to blend the higher-level taxa of the monophyletic termites into the polyphyletic roaches. Once they’ve thought long and hard about it, I expect we’ll read about it in texts such as this.

Dictyoptera and roaches
The question is a little more confusing for BugGuide, because both Dictyoptera and Isoptera are listed as Orders. Most people use Dictyoptera to include roaches, termites and mantids, and use it as a Superorder containing those three sub-groups as Orders. So as a first step, the rank-level of Dictyoptera would need to be clarified, and then termites would need to be placed within it. As far as Isoptera falling within the roaches, this is accepted by the giants in the termite world, but the terminology to be used is in flux. The proposal by some of the most respected termite people out there is to keep Isoptera as an unranked group within the roaches for now, until the roach phylogeny is worked out a little more. In that case, Isoptera should either be made the same rank as the roaches (currently a Suborder here, but more often an Order elsewhere) or else given a rank just under the rank of the roaches.

For additional information, see: Lo, N et al. 2007. Save Isoptera: A comment on Inward et al. Biology Letters 3:562–563

 
Ah!
That makes sense! Thank you. :)

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