Two Water Bugs Discovered in Belize and Peru


Jenna Iacurci (Nature World News) writes that scientists have discovered two new, “very creepy” water bug species in Belize and Peru. The scientists have published their findings in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America. The one in Belize, the Ambrysus cayo, was found in streams in western Belize:

The pair has been added to the list of over 900,000 insects that have thus far been discovered around the world. One, called Ambrysus cayo, was found in streams in western Belize, while Procryphocricos pilcopata was uncovered in streams in southeastern Peru. Both are true bugs in the suborder Heteroptera in the family Naucoridae and the subfamily Cryphocricinae. Because of their round, flat shape they are more commonly known as saucer bugs, or creeping water bugs.

The discoverers are Dr. Robert W. Sites of the University of Missouri’s Enns Entomology Museum, Dr. William Shepard of the University of California-Berkeley’s Essig Museum of Entomology, and Dr. Shepard’s wife, Cheryl Barr. A. cayo was discovered in 2014 and is “about the size of a fingernail, with dark wings, and orange marks to 6.2 mm wide. It can be found anywhere from northern North America to Argentina, with its greatest diversity in Mexico in running streams.

These insects possess powerful claws that allow them to cling to rocks and gravel, and also have beaks that are used to pierce prey like other insects and small fish, and then to draw up the inner fluids through their straw-like mouthparts.

[. . .] So how exactly did the researchers spot these incredibly tiny insects? They captured the underwater creatures by turning over rocks and leaves and having a net ready in the water. The insects get caught by the current and flow right into the net.

“We know how to collect in areas where fauna was never checked before for aquatic insects,” said Dr. Shepard. “Dr. Sites and I have long experience netting and turning over rocks and leaves.” [. . .]

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