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Deltocephalus flavicosta

Dr Andy Hamilton states that Deltocephalus flavicosta is the name for a tropical species; D. flavocostatus [note spelling!] is the name for our North American one. We recently moved all the images to the flavicosta page, but did not want to make any changes there since Tom and Robin researched the information posted there. We currently show flavocostatus as synonymous with flavicosta, but Dr Hamilton states they are two separate names for two separate species. Suggestions for what we want to do with that page?

My money's on Andy
in calling these two distinct species. I originally followed the USDA page when adding info to the Guide but notice that all the synonyms they list come from the same 39-year-old source (Metcalf 1967b). Seems like Metcalf was a "lumper", calling flavicosta and flavocostatus the same species, but more recent authors have split the two.

Also, it looks like both species were separated from Deltocephalus and placed in another genus (Planicephalus) by Kramer in 1971 (see bottom of this page), and Maes et al agreed with Kramer in the 1990s. Sources which follow this classification include North Carolina State U., Bishop Museum, Ecoport, and (whereas U. of Michigan still calls it Deltocephalus flavocostatus).

I suggest we create a new genus page for Planicephalus, rename the current flavicosta page to flavocostatus, and move it to Planicephalus.

The name Planicephalus flavocostatus was established back in 1971 by JP Kramer (Proc. Entomol. Soc. Washington 73:257. He included good diagnostic features for distinguishing this species from Deltocephalus flavocostus, but justified the generic change only on the basis of considering it "distinctive". This is no longer considered sufficient reason for elevating minor components of a large genus like Deltocephalus to generic status. The same thing happened when Nielson erected a new genus Jikradia for a component of the large genus Coelidia. I consider both Planicephalus and Jikradia as subgenera of Deltocephalus and Coelidia respectively. The names of their included North American species should therefore be written:
Deltocephalus (Planicephalus) flavocostatus;
Coelidia (Jikradia) olitoria.

For the purposes of BugGuide, I recommend you keep to as few generic pages as possible. More only confuses the user. You are unlikely to have many species of Deltocephalus, as these are often obscure western insects that look much alike.

Thanks for the info, Andy
I've made changes and added information to the Deltocephalus flavocostatus and Coelidia pages.

It looks to me like this isn't a matter of spelling variation. It would seem that they're two separate taxa described from two separate types (Jassus flavicosta Stål 1862 and Deltocephalus flavocostatus Van Duzee 1892).

The question here is whether the two types are different enough to be in different species, or whether they're in different subspecies of the same species or whether the difference is even less.

If they're close enough to be in the same species, then Jassus flavicosta Stål 1862 takes precedence and that's the correct specific epithet for both (by the way, Jassus is a feminine noun, so flavicosta is correct in that combination).

It would seem to boil down to whether you agree with Andy Hamilton's interpretation or with the USDA site's interpretation- which is a taxonomic judgment I doubt any of us is qualified to make.

To further muddy the waters, strict adherence to the ICZN rules on gender agreement would dictate Deltocephalus flavicostus rather than flavicosta- but that's a whole 'nother metal container of vermiform invertebrates... :)

gender and ICZN
Speaking as an ICZN Commissioner: "flavicosta" is a noun, and does not change spelling. The adjectival form of this exact name would be "flavicostata" and that WOULD change its spelling. Same for names like "flavicauda" or "flavicephala" - those are noun phrases, which do not change gender - unlike "flavicaudata" or "flavicephalica" which are adjectival. Note also that the genus name "Jassus" is rejected by ICZN Opinion 612; the correct name is Iassus Fabricius, 1803, and it is masculine, not feminine.

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