Comparative trichome morphology in feather-legged assassin bugs (Insecta Heteroptera: Reduviidae: Holoptilinae)

Christiane Weirauch*, Matthew Bulbert, Gerasimos Cassis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The trichome in ant-feeding Holoptilinae (Insecta: Heteroptera: Reduviidae) comprises remarkable modifications of abdominal sternites 2 and 3. It has been hypothesized that this structure plays a role in attracting and drugging ants. In the present study the trichome of 14 species of Holoptilini, comprising 11 species of Ptilocnemus Westwood and representatives of three additional genera of Holoptilini, is examined using scanning electron and light microscopy. The astoundingly diverse species-level modifications of sternites and vestiture are described and primary homology hypotheses are proposed. The trichome provides species-specific diagnostic characters within Ptilocnemus and evidence for species-groups within the genus, but also for the sistergroup relationship of Ptilocnemus and Smiliopus Bergroth. The comparative morphology establishes a framework for investigations into systematics, functional morphology, and behavioral ecology of these myrmecophagous assassin bugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-253
Number of pages17
JournalZoologischer Anzeiger
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


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