Monday, June 30, 2008
Reduvidae Revisited, Renardii
In the age old quest for taxonomic perfection, the identification of a certain assassin bug has been a recurring theme here on Am I Bugging You Yet. In the beginning I felt good to know it was an assassin bug, a member of the Reduvidae family of assassin bugs. But knowledge is power, and realizing there was much more to know, I wanted to find out which species, or at least genus my particular bug belongs in. One tripping point I've found to insect ID to species is the variability of gross morphology or coloration within some species; another is superficial similarities between related species; and a dearth of good information on juvenile stages of lots of species.
In March 2007 I was able to be convinced that the adult assassins I find lurking in the lantana and Queen Anne's lace are Zelus renardii, the leafhopper assassin bug. This was the result of an ID update on Natural History of OC that labeled a photo looking exactly like my bugs as the species. But, no photos of juvenile z. renardii were posted. Bugguide also lacks photos of young assassins for the most part. There was a photo under genus Pselliopis of a young one with banded legs (the only genus description that mentions banded legs by the way), but the adults look nothing like the adults I know. Believing in my heart that the juveniles I have grow into the adults I have, I have continued looking, re-inspired by the emergence of this year's crop of stripey limbed juveniles. Finally, at UC IPM I found in the lower right frame of this page, a juvenile that looks like mine. Hmmm, however the UC IPM folks do not positively identify that one as Z. renardii. IGnatz! I looked for photos of young of the other assassin species pictured, Sinea diadema, and they look nothing like the juvenile in the lower right photo. So by process of twisted logic and eliminated information, I conclude that the banded-legged juvenile assassins pictured here on AIBYY are indeed Zelus renardii.
Unless anyone has information to the contrary.
Anyway, the young assassins are in evidence all over the garden now, doing their part to eat other bugs.