The planthopper subfamily Asiracinae (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Delphacidae) and the species Copicerus irroratus Swartz are reported for the first time for Colombia from an agricultural landscape at the Andean region (Villamaría, Caldas). Relevant diagnostic and biological features of the species are discussed. A key to the species of Copicerus is also provided.
In Colombia, studies on delphacid planthoppers (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Delphacidae) have included only species of economic importance, namely, Tagosodes orizicolus (Muir) (Vélez 1997) and Peregrinus maidis (Ashmead) (Varón de Agudelo & Sarria Villa 2007). However, at least 17 additional delphacid species are known from the country (Table 1; all Delphacinae, Delphacini except Saccharosydne saccharivora [Westwood] in Saccharosydnini; Bartlett 2014; Bartlett et al. 2014; Kennedy & Bartlett 2014; Tri-trophic Thematic Collection Network [TTCN] 2014), and the actual delphacid fauna probably exceeds 100 species (70 species are known from Costa Rica and vicinity, with twice as many expected; Bartlett & Kunz 2015).
The subfamily Asiracinae Motschulsky includes 6 New World tribes, namely, Asiracini Motschulsky, Idiosystanini Emeljanov, Neopunanini Emeljanov, Platysystatini Emeljanov, Tetrasteirini Emeljanov, and Ugyopini Fennah, but has not been recorded from Colombia. New World Asiracini are Asiraca Latreille (1 species, Asiraca germari Metcalf) and Copicerus Swartz (4 species and 1 subspecies) (Metcalf 1943; Asche 1985; Barringer & Bartlett 2011; Bartlett 2014). Barringer & Bartlett (2011) provided keys to the New World genera of Asiracinae. Here, we report the first collection for Colombia of both the subfamily Asiracinae (Asiracini) and the species Copicerus irroratus Swartz.
The study area is located in the Villamaría Municipality(5.045556°N, 75.515278°W; 451 km2; 1,920 m asl), approximately 4 km from Manizales in the Caldas Department (Fig. 1). Villamaría presents a highly fragmented rural landscape with areas alternating between livestock and field and horticultural crops, such as fruits and vegetables (28,000 ha; Fig. 2). The selected study area includes a higher proportion of horticultural systems and medicinal herb cultivation (C. A. Llano & G. Guevara, personal observation).
A single female specimen of Copicerus irroratus Swartz, 1802 was found on leaves of Sechium edule (Jacq.) Swartz, 1800 (Cucurbitales: Cucurbitaceae) growing on riparian vegetation of a small agricultural microcatchment (Fig. 3). This specimen was collected using a standard sweep net and was deposited in the Laboratorio de Colecciones at Universidad de Caldas (Manizales, Colombia). Photographs (Figs. 4 and 5) were taken from the dry specimen under a light stereomicroscope equipped with a digital camera attachment. Diagnostic morphological terminology follows that of Asche (1985,1990) and Bartlett et al. (2014).
Recognizing species of Copicerus is problematic, despite their distinctive appearance, as the genus has never been revised (Barringer & Bartlett 2011). Copicerus can be recognized as belonging to the Asiracinae (sensu Urban et al. 2010) by the spine-like (not flattened) calcar, lacking teeth along the posterior margin (Asche 1985,1990; Emeljanov 1995); and to the tribe Asiracini by its large size (approx. 6+ mm) and very long, flattened, and foliaceous antennae extending beyond the apex of the mesonotum (e.g., Fig. 2; Barringer & Bartlett 2011). Except for the obscure Asiraca germari Metcalf, which is doubtfully placed in the genus Asiraca (see Barringer & Bartlett 2011), Copicerus is the only New World genus of Asiracini.
The Copicerus specimen from Colombia has features consistent with specimens and figures of those previously identified as C. irroratus (e.g., Asche 1985, Figs. 4,105,149,186; Barringer & Bartlett 2011, Figs. 1B, 2B, 3B; Bartlett et al. 2014, Figs. 25A, 25E, 41A), and with photographs of the holotype obtained from the Museum of Evolution, Uppsala University, Sweden. Copicerus irroratus was described from Jamaica but has a range from northern South America (Ecuador, Guyana, Venezuela) to the mid-Atlantic states of the USA (Bartlett 2014; Bartlett et al. 2014).
A key to species of Copicerus is here provided based on photographs of types of C. irroratus, Holotus obscurus Guérin-Méneville (Museo di Zoologia di Napoli, Naples, Italy), Copicerus swartzi Stål (Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden), and examination of the type specimen of Asiraca insignicornis Lethierry (Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris, France). This key is preliminary because the diagnostic reliability of coloration in Copicerus has not yet been verified by genitalic dissections (only the genitalia of C. irroratus have been described; Asche 1985, Figs. 380, 401, 423, 435). Features of the type specimens will be documented in a revision of Copicerus that is currently underway.
Taxonomic Key to Copicerus Species
1. — Frons with 2 black transverse bands (or large dark patches), contrasted with tan or pale brown at frontoclypeal suture and between black bands (at lower margin of compound eye); mesothorax tan medially, dark brown laterally Copicerus swartzi Stål
1′.— Frons variously brown speckled or dark dorsally and paler ventrally; mesothorax varied 2
2. — Prothorax often speckled brown and slightly to distinctly darker laterally; mesothorax bicolored, pale medially, darker laterally; frons variously speckled (sparsely to densely) C. irroratus Swartz
2′.— Pro- and mesothorax uniformly colored (except mesoscutellum may be paler); frons uniformly colored or speckled 3
3. — Frons uniformly colored; scutellum of mesothorax pale C. obscurus (Guérin-Méneville)
3′.— Frons sparsely speckled dorsally, uniformly pale below level of compound eyes C. insignicornis Lethierry
The life histories of Copicerus species have never been investigated. Immatures are known (e.g., Bartlett 2014) but have not been investigated in vivo. Delphacids generally feed on graminoids (e.g., Poaceae, Juncaceae, and Cyperaceae), but some groups are associated with dicots such as Asteraceae (Wilson et al. 1994; Urban et al. 2010). However, the Asiracinae are the basal branch of Delphacidae (Urban et al. 2010) with uncertain plant associations. Within the Asiracini, reliable host associations are available only for the widespread Palearctic species Asiraca clavicornis (F.), which is polyphagous on dicots (Wilson et al. 1994; Nickel 2003). Our observation of C. irroratus on S. edule is consistent with the notion that Copicerus may also be associated with dicots, but it is unclear whether Copicerus was feeding or transient on Sechium. No clear host association has otherwise been made for any Copicerus species; it was not included in the planthopper host compilation by Wilson et al. (1994), and only 3 of 106 C. irroratus specimens in the TTCN database (TTCN 2014) provide host associations (namely, Carya sp., Juglandaceae in USA: Mississippi; Oryza sativa L., Poaceae in Mexico: Durango; and Poa, Poaceae in USA: Pennsylvania), providing a conflicting picture of possible host associations.
This report was partially supported by COLCIENCIAS (Grant No. 1127-569-34563, Contract RC No. 0006-2013) and Universidad de Caldas. We thank Don Fernando for the opportunity to develop our research on his farm, Oscar Betancourt for support with photography, and Lucimar Gomes Dias for the support of the Laboratorio de Colecciones Biológicas (Universidad de Caldas, Colombia). We also thank Hans Mejlon (UZIU) and Gunvi Lindberg (NHRS) for providing photographs of type specimens, and Thierry Bourgoin (MNHN) and Manfred Asche (ZMHB) for specimen loans, including the type specimen of A. insignicornis.