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Questions regarding Apiomerus species...

A possible issue regarding the identification of some images in Apiomerus, was brought to my attention when I was reviewing Aaron Schusteff's images currently in ID Request. It seems plausible that Aaron's specimen is not the fairly common CA species, A. crassipes. His images do look like those for A. spissipes, but the range info on the guide page states "Florida to Texas and Arizona" (as per Slater). There is currently a single image in this section from California submitted by Will Chatfield-Taylor (here), but he states in his comments that "I never got this confirmed as spissipes or crassipes". Does anyone have any further info they can offer regarding the possibility of this species having an existing range in California? (One might also call into question those images from Colorado for this species, if the current range information is indeed correct...)

I wanted to find out what other species Aaron's specimen might be (if it was not A. spissipes nor A. crassipes) and continued to do some looking around, which only raised still more questions for me! For instance, A. montanus also looks very similar, but I could find no range info for that species and this comment from "drswanny" seems to call the species itself into question. In the same comment, he states something else I found quite intriguing: "This does look similar to A. repletus (=A. elatus??) but the catalog mentions that from CA only..." Another comment from "drswanny" (here) which is also of interest regarding possible misidentifications within this genus, makes mention of yet another CA species -- A. immundus. So, now it seems that there are at least two other species options possible for California that have yet to be classified on BugGuide.

I'm afraid that I'm really just raising questions here and can't provide any answers, but my hope in posting this here is that others who know considerably more about reduviids will offer whatever wisdom they may have regarding the potential problems in classification within this genus. Thanks!! (If this issue has already been raised in the forums, please forgive my ignorance and, if possible, point me to the past discussion.)

Apiomerus floridanus and several other species have now been formally described in the following hot-off-the-press publication:
Berniker, L., S. Szerlip, S. Forero & C. Weirauch. 2011. Revision of the crassipes and pictipes species groups of Apiomerus Hahn (Hemiptera: Reduviidae: Harpactorinae). Zootaxa 2949:1–113.

Brings a smile to my face :-)
Thanks for keeping us all abreast, Ted.

A heart-warming story to see nearly forgotten high-caliber work from decades ago brought to fruition, and recognition of the accomplishment given to the original author.

Hope Harsi will continue raising interesting questions like the one that started this thread...and that maybe some will even be resolved with as inspirational an ending as the one here :-).

terrific; thanks, Ted
source added(1) and prelim updates made; Dan Swanson will take it from there, he must have the paper handy
(Note: Forero is 'D' rather than 'S')

Fresh update...
Dimitri Forero, a Postdoctoral Researcher in Christiane Weirauch's lab at University of California-Riverside, has just responded to my discussion about this situation on my website and informs me that it will be rectified soon. A Masters student in their lab is revising the species concepts of Szerlip and adding a phylogenetic analysis, while Dimitri is dealing with the rest of the fauna in Central and South America. Best of all, Szerlip will be a coauthor of the Masters student's work validating his names.

I think this is a fantastic outcome - not only will Szerlip's names be published, but he will get the credit he deserves and benefit from a modern phylogenetic analysis. Soon, we will be able to say Apiomerus "floridensis" without the quotation marks!

Nice to see it all play out so well...
As I stated when I started this forum thread, I really didn't know much about the taxonomic ins and outs of this issue, I was just raising a lot of questions. The wonderful thing about BugGuide is that a beginner such as myself is given the opportunity to start a discussion such as this and others with considerable more experience and knowledge will join in and provide more useful input and perhaps even shed some new light on an issue that has sat dormant for some time. Thanks to all those that participated in this discussion and I'll be looking forward to future updates once the old (and new) data is finally published!

Beautiful Resolution
A very interesting story with a happy ending :-)

Thanks, Ted, for pursuing this and bringing the news to us. And thanks again to good old Harsi for starting the ball rolling here on BugGuide with this forum topic.

That is good news, I was a little disappointed when I couldn't get anyone interested when I found his contact info. I'm glad that there was someone out there who cared.

Joining a little late here...
I found this discussion topic while trying to determine an Apiomerus caught by a green lynx spider that I photographed in Florida. I featured that photo on my website in a post called, "Assassin ate" and referred to the problem discussed in this thread. That post generated some discussion that drswanney especially may find of interest, with one commenter suggesting the potential to help locate Szerlip.

Comment removed
for privacy reasons. Please contact me regarding his contact info.

Problems regarding Apiomerus
Most problems regarding Apiomerus can be answered using a single source. Leopold Szerlip, a Berkeley grad student at the time, completed a biosystematic analysis of the Apiomerus of North and Central America in 1980 as the topic of his doctoral dissertation. Unfortunately other than qualifying him for his PhD, nothing more was done with the information; it was never published. As a result, the 19 new species erected within it are invalid!

I have acquired a copy of this manuscript and the answer to the majority of the questions raised can be answered with it. Both “Apiomerus montanus” and “A. cazieri” are Szerlip species. I can’t remember if this was specifically mentioned but it makes sense if Eric used museum specimens from Arizona to make his identifications since Szerlip would certainly have used material from the museum AND segregated it according to his new species.
Other questions raised in the forum find answer here as well. A. crassipes does not occur in California, in fact, this species does not occur west of KS, NB or TX. Furthermore, every single blackish Apiomerus from California that I have ever seen (photo or museum specimen) has the white band on the posterior rim of the pronotum, in fact they seem to vary little in the color pattern. I actually noticed this a while ago and it’s what prompted me to really begin searching for some Apiomerus answers. I also believe these white-banded individuals WOULD fit under Szerlip’s “Apiomerus californicus.”

A. elatus and A. repletus are both valid species though neither is found in the United States. Uhler’s CA record for repletus (which happens to be the holotype) is likely in error since no conspecifics have been found in places other than southern Central America. While A. immundus may occur in Texas, Szerlip doubts the validity of records of A. moestus and A. pictipes occurring in the United States. “A. montanus” is apparently not found below 5000 feet ASL. A. spissipes also presents a problem. According to Szerlip, it does reach southeastern CA but doesn’t occur east of the 100 meridian! Thus, any reddish east coast individuals, especially the Floridian ones, fall into an entirely new set of Szerlip species. What’s wrong with this? The problem is it is probably all legit (though invalid). Each of these entities, in all likelihood, really is a separate species. And because this seems a point of interest, the Californian species include A. flaviventris, A. spissipes, “A. cazieri” and “A. californicus” with the first two only occurring in southeastern CA and the other two being found in north and central California.

This is really quite a sad predicament because Szerlip’s dissertation is extremely well done with important information about life history and very detailed genitalic studies. I personally believe that many of his designations certainly do warrant new species as well. There are problems about publishing information after such a long interval (nearly 30 years!), especially posthumously (which I don’t think is the case here) but it also seems unethical (to me at least) for anyone else other than Szerlip to receive credit for this study…unless the whole experiment were reproduced which, again to me, seems a complete waste of time when such a prodigious amount of work has already been completed. It’s a real dilemma and I’ve exhausted myself thinking about the solution…and simply let it slip by the wayside. I would prefer that it just be published but perhaps talking about it here may lead someone else to think of a solution which may actually be pursued.

Thank you for your patience with my travels and I appreciate the good wishes. Feel free to ask more questions because as I mentioned, I think dialogue can only bring more awareness and thus, a proper resolution to the situation. I’m also unsure of what the admins want to do with the Apiomerus images since “cazieri” and “montanus” should not be maintained without some note about their validity. If they are kept, then “californicus” should probably be added so the white-banded images do not confuse other people too. Either way I will help in whatever way I can.

CA specimens of Apiomerus...
First of all, thank you so much for providing all this information for us to digest and attempt to work into the current classification system.

Forgive me for specifically focusing on the issue of correctly identifying the California specimens, but it is what I know best thus far and what I was attempting to understand when I initially raised this forum issue. It came as quite a shock to me to read that A. crassipes does not have a range within CA. One of the books that many of us rely on in this area is "Insects of the Los Angeles Basin" and it specifically lists that species as being found in our area. The references they list in that book are as follows:

Bouseman, J.K. 1976. Biological observations of Apiomerus crassipes (F.) (Hemiptera: Reduviidae). Pan-Pacific Entomologist, vol. 52, pp. 178-179.
Swadener, S.O., and T.R. Yonke. 1973. Immature stages and biology of Apiomeurs crassipes. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, vol. 66, pp. 188-196.

Does this mean that this reference source is now invalid? If so, there are currently many submissions in the guide from Orange County and (although I have yet to submit them) I could provide similar images from Los Angeles County, which have been labeled A. crassipes. In looking at the other possible classifications that you put forth for CA, I find myself a bit confused. I believe you've stated that A. flaviventris and A. spissipes only occur in southeastern CA, and that A. cazieri and A. californicus only occur in north and central California. My question is, what species are known to occur in the southwestern portion of the state?

No worries, Harsi...
We have to start somewhere, right? Let me offer clarification on two points that I left a little ambiguous.

First, these organisms known nothing of our man-made boundaries and I would suppose that flaviventris and spissipes are limited to southeastern CA as a natural extension of their range throughout the southwestern United States. I’m not particularly strong with Californian geology but perhaps a mountain range prevents further west- or northward expansion. Californicus and cazieri, on the other hand, are not LIMITED to north and central California, they simply extend where the other two species do not. You would certainly find californicus and cazieri in southwestern CA and you could probably find at least cazieri in southeastern CA (since it is known from AZ). I have not read through the description of cazieri in great depth yet but if it is a reddish species as Eric’s identification suggests, then the only blackish species in CA is californicus…just as I believe your records from LA County will be. Furthermore, all of the images I have seen from Orange County in Bugguide have that shiny blackness and white posterior pronotal stripe; these I believe to be californicus.

Now as to the literature you mentioned, this certainly does not invalidate these studies. One must simply remember that Hogue was, unbeknownst to him, referring to californicus instead of crassipes because at the time this species WAS known as crassipes and the information should be transferred to the other species in the reader’s mind. This sort of thing happens all the time in taxonomy. In fact, when what is now known as Apiomerus crassipes was described by Fabricius in 1803, it was originally called Reduvius crassipes. Later, the genus Apiomerus was created and the species was transferred but we know that when we go back and read the original description, Reduvius crassipes refers to the bee assassin and not some Reduvius related to the masked bedbug hunter. See, californicus and crassipes (and montanus and a few others) were all formerly lumped as crassipes and each taxa was simply split away as differences became apparent during Szerlip’s study. And truth be told, the life history of each species is probably extremely similar if not identical (as is often the case with members of the same genus) and the information in the field guide that would help you find one species would probably also help you find the other species. These Apiomerus populations have just been isolated from each other for enough time that they’ve speciated and can probably no longer interbreed.

Now I must mention that the references you mention from Hogue may still, however, refer to crassipes proper. One could assume, not unreasonably, that what was considered to be a transcontinental species (as crassipes was) would have essentially the same life history in Virginia that it would in California. Under this assumption, Hogue could use a study of crassipes in Minnesota for his California field guide and still be safe. The thing to remember in light of the new species is if the studies by Bouseman and Swadener & Yonke have been conducted in an eastern state, they will still refer to crassipes and not californicus; the original study would need to be checked to know for sure. As I mentioned previously, however, it may not make much difference and Bouseman’s observations may still be applicable to californicus even if he was referring to crassipes.

I hope I’ve provided clear explanations since sometimes these issues become a bit complicated. As always, feel free to ask more questions if the need arises.

Much less confused...
Thank you so much for your further explanation regarding the probable geographical ranges of the CA species. I believe I understand now and suspect that you are correct that all of the specimens from LA and Orange Counties will likely be renamed A. californicus on this site.

Also, thank you for your in-depth comments regarding the status of Hogue as a reference source. As I mentioned in my other comment to J&J, I probably should have chosen a different word than "invalid". I see now that it is a much less black-and-white issue than valid vs. invalid. I try not to be afraid to ask questions regarding taxonomy, but fear that in the process I may occasionally seem pretty ignorant -- which I am! But, hey, I'm doing my best to learn and you can't do that without making a few fumbles and mistakes along the way... I am greatly indebted to people like you (and many others on this site) who are willing to patiently explain things to me.

And thank you for asking the question
or otherwise none of us would have all this new information. Your initial question will bring about a nice improvement in BugGuide!

You need to be careful with your use of the word "invalid".
The scientific names used in those references are "valid" published names. The contention in this discussion is that they have been applied to more than one species. At present, they are the scientifically accepted names for the creatures in your area, but that is probably wrong! Unfortunately this can't be fixed officially until the new names and descriptions, etc., are published in the scientific literature. What we are suggesting is that here at BugGuide we use Szerlip as our reference, even though it has not been published, because it seems to have the correct information, despite the fact that the species names in it are not yet "valid". We feel we can provide the best information to visitors that way but we must be clear about the source of the names we are using, which is what Chuck did on the Info pages he fixed. It's not that your references are "invalid". It's just that we don't want to use them as our official source of information on Apiomerus here at BugGuide. Hope that clarifies some.

I should have chosen a different word than "invalid". I appreciate your clarifying the matter for me!

many thaks, Swanny...
...for your illuminating and extremely helpful explanation of this matter.

I updated some of the relevant guide pages
Take a look at Genus Apiomerus, Apiomerus cazieri and Apiomerus montanus and tell me if I explained it right.

It also might be nice if you could make an entry under the Books tab for Apiomerus for the dissertation so we can cite it in the guide pages.

By the way- of the few online references, most are under his first name: "Sigurd" ("Leopold" is his middle name).

Yeah, I noticed my mistake with the name after I revisited it and was going to mention it so nice catch. And well done, the note under the guide pages explain the issue quite nicely. I'm not sure what to do for a Book tab so here's the reference, just let me know what needs to be done:

Szerlip, S. L. 1980. Biosystematic revision of the genus Apiomerus (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) in North and Central America. Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Berkley, CA.

How to do it
Go to the Apiomerus guide page
Click on the Books tab
Click on "Add Book"
Ignore the ISBN and Publisher fields, since it hasn't been published, but fill in the other fields.

I'd do it myself, but then you wouldn't be able to edit it (I won't be able to edit yours, but you know more about it than I do).

Thanks for your help.

We have a somewhat similar situation
in Membracidae for the genus Enchenopa. Here at BugGuide we have separated the images based upon the hostplant into pages with madeup names. Dr Hamilton says they are different species and he hopes they will be named and the information published. He says it has been very difficult to get the publishers moving on all the new information he has. He seems to have several new papers pending in publication limbo somewhere.

Can we do the same thing here with your help? Let's separate the images into separate pages based upon your interpretation of Szerlip's information and indicate on the guidepages that these are madeup species names pending the publication of Szerlip's thesis. At least the images will be sorted and people can match up their bugs with our pages. The Info page can carry the information concerning the current accepted name for this group of images.

It seems to us that this provides visitors with the greatest amount of information and allows us to lump them all back together at some time in the future should that be the decision of the scientific community.

Not a problem...
In the next day or so, I will start looking through the Apiomerus images. I can simply leave comments on the photos unless you would like me to somehow direct attention to the ones that should be moved or changed. I will use his manuscript names as well.

Apiomerus check
I looked through the images of Apiomerus and will be requesting two guide pages for Szerlip species. Longispinis is ok. The montanus ones look ok too. I think cazieri is ok although specimens from the Great Basin are described as blackish while more southern specimens tend to appear reddish-brown like the photos we have. I'll note this in the new page forum but each one should have an identical note about the status of the species name.

Thanks and a Q
Thanks drswanny for unearthing and sharing all this info with the BugGuide community and for helping to integrate it into the site's organizational structure. (And many thanks also to Harsi, J&J, Chuck, =v=, and so many others who work both "within the threads" and behind the scenes to make BugGuide such a wonderful site and resource!)

Here's my Q: When you use of the descriptives "blackish" and "reddish" to refer to different Apiomerus specimens in the comment(s) above, are you referring to the coloration of the pronota?

I'm also wondering what the correct ID of my Apiomerus post might end up being? [But it seems if I'm a patient, I'll find out soon no urgent need to answer immediately here :-]

I may try to visit the library at UC Berkeley to track down S. L. Szerlip's dissertation in the coming weeks...just for fun.

Glad to oblige
I was using those terms in a very non-technical, subjective sense. It could refer to the pronotum as well as the legs and sometimes the head; it's the general appearance. What it definitely does NOT refer to is the corium which usually has some portion of red coloring even in black species. To be more clear, crassipes, montanus, californicus and longispinis (and immundus and subpiceus, two other NA species we don't have images for) would be what I was referring to as "blackish" species; they are either all dark or are a very deep black where they don't possess red coloring. Flaviventris, spissipes, floridensis and the cazieri shown in the guide (since as I noted, I'm not sure about the cazieri found in the Great Basin) are reddish species.

And as I'm sure you have noticed, your image is now in A. californicus alongside the other Californian images with the strong pale posterior pronotal marking.

Very Helpful
Your explanation makes good sense and dispels my confusion.

I did notice my post is now under A. californicus, which is where I had guessed it might end up.

Thanks again for your efforts!

Thanks Harsi!
You make good points above. I suggested Apiomerus spissipes based mainly on visual likeness. I too saw the range comment "Florida to Texas and Arizona" on the A. spissipes guide page, but I also saw Will Chatfield-Taylor's California post, so thought perhaps A. spissipes made it to California afterall. But I have no better basis than that. Indeed, this map from the "Discover Life" web site does not include California among its locales for spissipes. I was able to find a few links for the some of the alternative taxa you mention: So I also have no conclusive answers, just some leads. As you expressed, hopefully someone with more knowledge of the group will be able to help clarify things. Thanks again, Harsi, for your observations and efforts here. As in many of your other posts, I'm impressed with your attentiveness, curiosity, diligence, and good nature :-)

In the last month I've come to understand a lot about the problems regarding Apiomerus. Unfortunately I'm on the road visiting friends in various parts of Virginia so my internet access is limited and I cannot leave comments with the depth and detail that I would like. I will definitely be returning to this forum topic but unfortunately it won't be until sometime next week.

I look forward to your input...
...with much anticipation. Thanks for dropping a note and enjoy your travels!

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