What's so confusing about this Bug (Heteroptera: Miridae)? Heterotoma planicornis (Pallas, 1772) Heterotoma merioptera
(Scopoli, 1763) sensu Wagner
The other day I was somehow prompted again to look into the Heterotoma
naming issue that I had encountered a few times before, but had also forgotten about again. In a neat discussion on insektenfotos.de
(sorry, German) we more or less got to the bottom of it. Then I stumbled on the Heterotoma 'merioptera'
on Alan Dale's bugsandweeds.co.uk
and contacted him. He had a pow-wow with his Heteropterists-anonymous support group, and the verdict was that the British take on the matter is, well ... 'British'
( => handling the two names as synonyms - which incidentally concurs more or less with this
So I've decided to cut and paste some English-language stuff here for your entertainment and also as a "note to self", because I'm quite certain that by this time next year I'll have forgotten most details and be as confused again as ever
Both our countries (GB & NL) only have the one
species of Heterotoma
depicted above. It is currently often addressed as Heterotoma planicornis
(Pallas, 1772) and, at least in Britain it seems, the name Heterotoma merioptera
(Scopoli, 1763) is given as a full synonym. This, in itself, is peculiar already as the Scopoli version is clearly the older one of the two So, whazzup?
This species has been known for the longest time as Heterotoma merioptera
(Scopoli, 1763) as this was assumed to be identical to H. planicornis
(Pallas, 1772) and hence the older name prevailed.
In 1950 however Wagner identified the 'new' species Capsus (Heterotoma) dalmatinus
, which should now probaly read "Heterotoma dalmatina
(Wagner, 1950)", in about the same region that Scopoli had been working in 1763. This led Tamanini in his revision of the genus (Tamanini, 1962) to assume that Scopoli must have actually described the species identified by Wagner, as the other species was never found in that region. So, he renamed the western European species (then still known as H. merioptera
) to H. planicornis
and Wagner's H. dalmatinum/dalmatinus/dalmatina/dalmawhatever
to H. merioptera
(or, well ... meriopterum
at the time ... but that's beside the point really
Wagner did not agree, arguing that - as Scopoli's type material had been lost - there was no way of proving what species Scopoli had been looking at (the description was insufficient too help any) and that the other species was
found in neighbouring regions so (maybe possibly) Scopoli could
have been looking at that one and thus, following the rules of ICAN his name/description should be the one used for the 'new' species. By the book, he was probably correct in that too, even if it is very, very unlikely that Scopoli would have been looking at anything else than Wagner's Heterotoma
Anyway, Wagner maintained this view all his life, and made a point of promoting it wherever he could (such as in the authorative Faune de France (Vol.67)
, so for a long time there were two sets of names around: Tamanini's version:
- Western species: Heterotoma planicornis
- Eastern species: Heterotoma merioptera
(Scopoli, 1763) Wagner's version:
- Western species: Heterotoma merioptera
- Eastern species: Heterotoma dalmatina
(Wagner, 1950) Note how the name Heterotoma merioptera (Scopoli, 1763) is used in both versions, but for different animals. Note: I'm not quite sure about the parenthesis in the "Heterotoma dalmatina (Wagner, 1950)" (!) Think they should be there as he originally described it in the genus Capsus (as Capsus (Heterotoma) dalmatinus), but as it seems the whole subgenus (Heterotoma) was lifted (back!) out later I'm not quite sure how that affects the parenthesis usage.
So, to avoid confusion about the 'merioptera' name it would probably be best to address the different animals as:
European (and British) species:
- Heterotoma planicornis
- Heterotoma merioptera
(Scopoli, 1763) sensu Wagner
- Heterotoma merioptera
(Scopoli, 1763) sensu Tamanini
- Heterotoma dalmatina
Most modern authors, such as the recent and authorative "Catalogue of the Heteroptera of the Palaearctic Region" (Aukema & Rieger eds.), the Fauna Europaea database, etc, etc, seem to have chosen - rightly or wrongly so - to follow Tamanini, making H. planicornis
and H. merioptera not synonymous
. In that view the name H. merioptera has been used erroneously
for "our" species for a long time in many fine references, but technically speaking, that does not a synonym make.
So, if all this is correct (and to the best I could find it looks that way) it seems a bit peculiar to call the beast planicornis and
as an (even equally valid?) synonym. If you do, and thus in fact decide to follow Wagner (which is fine of course btw), the valid name should be H. merioptera
, with indeed the junior synonym H. planicornis
(as in Wagner's view the two are
But if a choice is made to follow Tamanini (and the contemporary authors) and call the beast H. planicornis
, then listing H. merioptera
as a synonym (just like that, without the "sensu Wagner" thingy), is well, .... British ... ???
- Scopoli, J. A. (1763) Entomologia Carniolica, exhibens Insecta Carnioliae indigena et distributa in ordines, genera, species, varietates methodo Linneana. Vindobonae/Wien: Typis Ioannis Thomae Trattner. => Original description for Cimex meriopterum.
- Pallas, P. S. (1772) Spicilegia Zoologica. Vol.9: pp:1-86. Berolini/Berlin: Lange. => Original description for Cimex planicornis
- Le Peletier, A.L.M.; Serville, J.G.A. (1825) Les Insectes in Encyclopedie methodique. Vol.10, pp.321-326. Paris: ? => Original description for genus Heterotoma.
- Wagner, E. (1950) Capsus (Heterotoma) dalmatinus n. sp., eine neue Hemipteren Art aus Dalmatien. in Wiener Entomologische Rundschau 2: 1--6 (PDF).
- Tamanini, L. (1962) Osservazioni sul valore specifico e sulla distribuzione dell'Heterotoma meriopterum (Scopoli) e dell' H. planicornis (Pallas) Hemiptera Heteroptera, Miridae). in Atti dell'Accademia Roveretana degli Agiati, Ser.6/2, pp:135-14.
- Wagner, Eduard (1968) Die Gattung Heterotoma Lepeletier & Serville, 1825 (Synonym Acroderrhis Bergroth, 1914)(Heteroptera, Miridae) in Notulae Entomologicae XLVIII. Hamburg (PDF)