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Aphid predator (Hemiptera : Miridae)
Heterotoma planicornisOn 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).