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Aphid predator (Hemiptera : Miridae)

Heterotoma planicornis

On this page: Identification & Distribution  Biology & Ecology  Biological Control of Aphids 

Identification & Distribution

The adult of Heterotoma planicornis is black with very unusual broad and flattened antennae (see picture below) extending forward from the head. The pronotum and hemelytra are black, sparsely covered with a mixture of dark and pale hairs. The femora are green and the tibiae are yellowish brown. The male body length is 4.6-5.3 mm and the female body length is 4.9-5.5 mm. Immature Heterotoma planicornis are reddish in colour and also have an enlarged second antennal segment.

Heterotoma planicornis is zoophagous and phytophagous, feeding on various insects including psyllids and aphids, as well as spiders and mites, and numerous herbaceous plants and trees. Heterotoma planicornis is native to Europe, and has been introduced to the United States and New Zealand.

 

Biology & Ecology

Heterotoma planicornis has one generation a year. Eggs are laid in late summer and hatch the following year.

We have found this bug in Britain on broom (Cytisus scoparius) which it was cohabiting with (and most likely feeding on) the very rare aphid Ctenocallis setosa It is perhaps more than coincidence that Heterotoma is thought to have been introduced to New Zealand with broom (Schaefer & Panizzi, 2000 (eds) ).

 

Biological control of Aphids

Heterotoma planicornis is thought to play a role in biological control of spider mites and aphids in orchards with an understory of mixed vegetation (Helyer et al., 2014 ).

Acknowledgements

For the mirid bugs we have used Southwood & Leston (1959)  and British Bugs  to aid in identification and for the key characteristics.

For aphids we have made provisional identifications from high resolution photos of living specimens, along with host plant identity. In the great majority of cases, identifications have been confirmed by microscopic examination of preserved specimens. We have used the keys and species accounts of Blackman & Eastop (1994)  and Blackman & Eastop (2006)  supplemented with Blackman (1974) , Stroyan (1977) , Stroyan (1984) , Blackman & Eastop (1984) , Heie (1980-1995) , Dixon & Thieme (2007)  and Blackman (2010) . We fully acknowledge these authors as the source for the (summarized) taxonomic information we have presented. Any errors in identification or information are ours alone, and we would be very grateful for any corrections. For assistance on the terms used for aphid morphology we suggest the figure  provided by Blackman & Eastop (2006).

Useful weblinks 

References

  •  Helyer, N. (2014). Biological Control in Plant Protection CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida

  •  Schaefer, C.W. & Panizzi, A.R. (eds) (2000). Heteroptera of Economic Importance. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida