Bugs (Hemiptera)

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Rank & taxon

Order Hemiptera

Description

True bugs range in size from 1 mm to 15 cm. There is a great deal of morphological diversity in the order. The defining feature of the order is their piercing-sucking mouthparts which have evolved into a rostrum capable of piercing tissues and sucking out the liquids, usually piercing plant tissues to suck sap. The name "Hemiptera" refers to the forewings of many hemipterans, which are hardened at the base but membranous at the ends, termed hemelytra, or "half-wings."

Distribution

Hemipterans are hemimetabolous, meaning that they do not undergo true metamophosis, but rather have a serious of nymphal stages leading to the final adult stage. Most hemipterans are phytophagous, generally feeding on plant sap. Many of these species are considered significant pests. Most of the remainder are predatory (some are even used as biological pest control agents), though they may be parasitic, feeding on the blood of larger animals (including bedbugs and kissing bugs). Some hemipterans are adapted to an aquatic lifestyle, including the only group of insects that are truly marine, the genus Halobates. Many hemipterans are known for their symbiotic associations with ants; phloem-feeding Hemiptera excrete a sugary, sticky substance known as honeydew, which the ants utilize in exchange for protection from predators and parasites.

Biology/life cycle

Hemipterans are hemimetabolous, meaning that they do not undergo true metamophosis, but rather have a serious of nymphal stages leading to the final adult stage. Most hemipterans are phytophagous, generally feeding on plant sap. Many of these species are considered significant pests. Most of the remainder are predatory (some are even used as biological pest control agents), though they may be parasitic, feeding on the blood of larger animals (including bedbugs and kissing bugs). Some hemipterans are adapted to an aquatic lifestyle, including the only group of insects that are truly marine, the genus Halobates. Many hemipterans are known for their symbiotic associations with ants; phloem-feeding Hemiptera excrete a sugary, sticky substance known as honeydew, which the ants utilize in exchange for protection from predators and parasites.

Hosts

Palms: a wide variety of palms

Other: a wide variety of plants

Representative taxa on palms

The American palm cixiid, Myndus crudus, is a planthopper that feeds on the phloem sap of a number of palm species. The adult is the only known vector of a serious and destructive palm disease, lethal yellowing, in Florida and the Caribbean. The nymphs develop in the root zone of grasses.

Though native to Oceania and Southeast Asia, Nipaecoccus nipae (coconut mealybug) is a common pest of various palm species in greenhouses and container-grown palms in North America, occuring most commonly on Howea spp.

Royal palm bug, Xylastodoris luteolus, attacks young leaves of royal palms (Roystonea regia), a popular ornamental palm native to southern Florida and Cuba.

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