Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Taxonomy and distribution of the leaf-hopper genus Aphrodes Curtis (Homoptera:Cicadellidae) in North America Public Deposited

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  • The subfamily Aphrodinae is represented in the Nearctic Region by eight species contained in a single tribe, Aphrodini, and genus Aphrodes. The external and internal morphology, biology and ecology of the Nearctic members of the genus Aphrodes were investigated. Distributional evidence indicates that six of the eight species, belonging to the subgenera Aphrodes and Anoscopus, have been introduced from the Palearctic Region, presumably via maritime shipping. These six species occur either within the West Coast and adjacent land area or the East Coast and Great Lakes region and adjacent land areas, or both. The other two species, belonging to the subgenus Stroggylocephalus, are believed to be indigenous to North America and are not known to occur elsewhere. These two species have been recorded from numerous North American localities between 35°N and 58°N latitude. The irregular distribution of Nearctic members of the subgenus Stroggylocephalus indicates that these species now exist as relict populations. Two species of the subgenus Stroggylocephalus are recorded from Europe with one, agrestis, reported as occurring in North America. However, records of agrestis in North America were not verified, and prior records are believed to be erroneous. A single female of the subgenus Stroggylocephalus from Kentucky apparently represents a new species, the third known from North America. The Nearctic species of Aphrodes are here assigned to three subgenera: Aphrodes s. s., Anoscopus and Stroggylocephalus. Species differentiation is based primarily on features of the male genitalia. The structure, length, and number of retrorse spines of the aedeagus is unique for each species. The structure of the pygofer hook and style, the shape and setation of the genital plate and the absence or presence of a secondary papilliform structure adjacent to the pygofer hook were found to be useful in discriminating between some species and species groups. Morphological differentiation of females of some species is nearly impossible. The number of dentations on valve II of the ovipositor was found to be unreliable for discriminating species or species groups, in contrast to Readio's findings (1922). Color and color pattern of the forewing, face and crown in males and some females were frequently found to be useful for recognition of some species and species groups even though considerable amounts of variation occur within a species. Wing venation is variable; the venation of the two forewings of the same insect are often different. However, the length of the forewing was found to be a reliable character for distinguishing members of Aphrodes s. s. and Stroggylocephalus from Anoscopus. Crown L:W ratios of the females are usually smaller than the males and ratios of both sexes are unreliable for species differentiation because of the amount of infras pecific variation. Evidence regarding anatomy of the reproductive organs of species of Aphrodes, studied for the purpose of comparison with representatives of other genera and subfamilies of leafhoppers, although limited in scope, provides information useful for species differentiation in sexually mature males. The structure of the reproductive tracts supports the conclusion that the species studied belong to a single genus Aphrodes, or at most to two genera, Aphrodes and Stroggylocephalus. The Nearctic species of the genus Aphrodes are characterized through illustrations, verbal descriptions and a diagnostic key. Infraspecific variation consists primarily of differences in color, color pattern and size. The male genitalia are relatively uniform with some minor differences occurring in the length and rugosity of the styles, rugosity and crenulations on the lateral margin and apex of the pygofer hooks, and length and position of the retrorse spines of the aedeagus. The nymphal instars of three species--A. bicinctus, albifrons and serratulae--are described. The color and color pattern were found to be distinct for each of these species from the second ins tar to the final molt. Field and laboratory studies demonstrate that at least some of the species of Aphrodes are polyphagous. Two species, serratulae and albifrons, appear to prefer grasses, but will also feed on clovers. Those Nearctic species of Aphrodes that have been studied with reference to habitat preference are found in such places as near the base of plants, in soil surface litter, and under or around rocks and boards. Members of Aphrodes s. s. and Anoscopus are univoltine, with a few females surviving the winter. Adults of Stroggylocephalus have been recorded during nearly every month which suggests a polyvoltine life cycle.
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