Taxonomy changes in arthropods that may affect PMPs

|  February 10, 2017

There have been many changes to the taxonomy of arthropods in the past few years, but here are just a few that could affect pest management professionals (PMPs):

Fig. 1. True powderpost beetle (family Bostrichidae: subfamily Lyctinae). Photo: Dr. Gary Wegner

Fig. 1: True powderpost beetle (family Bostrichidae: subfamily Lyctinae).
Photo: Dr. Gary Wegner

Powderpost beetle

As many of you already know, the true powderpost beetles (Fig. 1) that used to have their own family (Lyctidae) have been placed into the family Bostrichidae, along with auger beetles and twig borers. What used to be the family Lyctidae has been demoted to the subfamily Lyctinae. Some state regulatory agencies have changed their certification exam questions to reflect this change; some have not.

Fig. 2. Subterranean termites (order Blattodea: epifamily Termitoidae). Photo: Pest and Diseases Image Library

Fig. 2. Subterranean termites (order Blattodea: epifamily Termitoidae).
Photo: Pest and Diseases Image Library

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Termites

Those of you who keep current in your technical reading or who’ve heard the University of Georgia’s Dr. Brian Forschler present on termites at the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) PestWorld conferences in 2015 and 2016 know that termites (Fig. 2) are now considered to be eusocial cockroaches. Their new taxonomy looks like this:

Order Blattodea
– – Epifamily Termitoidae … or …
– – – Infraorder Isoptera

That’s right, not even all the experts agree yet on how the taxonomic levels shake out. The cockroaches we all know and love now belong to epifamily Blattoidae. Again, some state regulatory agencies now recognize this change and have incorporated new questions in their certification tests; some have not.
 

Psocids and lice

Psocids, aka barklice and booklice (Fig. 3), had comprised the order Psocoptera for many years. By contrast, parasitic sucking and chewing lice comprised the order Phthiraptera (although this old man can remember a time when the chewing lice had their own order, Mallophaga, and the sucking lice had their own order, Anoplura).

Fig. 3. Psocids (a and b) and lice (c and d) now share the new order Psocodea. Photo: A, B — Dr. Gerry Wegner; C, D — Public Domain

Fig. 3: Psocids (a and b) and lice (c and d) now share the new order Psocodea.
Photo: A, B — Dr. Gerry Wegner; C, D — Public Domain

The combined taxonomy of these insects looks like this:

Order Psocodea
– – Suborder Trogiomorpha (psocids)
– – –Suborder Psocomorpha (psocids)
– – – - Suborder Troctomorpha (psocids + lice)
– – – – – Infraorder Amphientometae (psocids)
– – – – – – Infraorder Nonopsocetae (lice)
– – – – – – – Subinfraorder Phthiraptera
– – – – – – – – Superfamily Ischnocera (chewing lice)
– – – – – – – – – Superfamily Amblycera (chewing lice)
– – – – – – – – – – Superfamily Anoplura (sucking lice)

Whew! I’m glad we cleared that up. Right? It may take awhile for the state regulatory agencies to catch up to this hot mess. It’s a good thing the taxonomy of lice and psocids generally does not merit very many questions on our certification exams.
 

What else?

Because I’m into arachnids, I can tell you that a number of spiders have been moved from one family to another — sometimes to an altogether new family.

Also, some spiders have been assigned new genus names, such as an often-enountered wolf spider, which went from Hogna helluo to Tigrosa helluo. Similarly, the hobo spider of the Pacific Northwest, previously Tegenaria agrestis, is now Eratigena agrestis.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. These sorts of changes are happening all the time — and it’s up to the diligent in the industry to know which ones affect them on the job.

Dr. Gerry Wegner, BCE, is retired technical director and staff entomologist of Varment Guard Environmental Services, Columbus, Ohio, and currently resides in Florida. Contact him at pmpeditor@northcoastmedia.net.

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