Comparative Morphology of Atalodera spp. and Thecavermiculatus spp. (Heteroderidae) with Scanning Electron Microscopy


  • Abubaker A. Othman
  • J. G. Baldwin
  • A. H. Bell


SEM examination of second-stage juveniles (J2) and adults of Atalodera ucri, A. lonicerae (syn. Sherodera lonicerae), Thecavermiculatus sp. (undescribed new species), T. andinus, and T. crassicrustatus revealed new characters. A primitive en face pattern with six separate lips occurs in J2 of Thecavermiculatus spp. examined and in about half the polymorphic A. lonicerae. A derived en face pattern with fused adjacent submedial lips occurs in the other half of A. lonicerae and all A. ucri. Posteriorly, the J2 head of all species is annulated. The primitive en face pattern also occurs in males of A. lonicerae and Thecavermiculatus spp., and posteriorly the head of these species consists of plates. Fewer plates occur rarely in males of A. ucri. Males of A. ucri have a derived en face pattern where lips are fused and the head is annulated. Fusion of lips occurs rarely in males of A. lonicerae. Females of all species have similar derived en face patterns. En face patterns of J2 and males o f Atalodera and Thecavermiculatus may aid in species identification and to elucidate intergeneric relationships, but en face characters shared by the two genera are primitive and are not useful for demonstrating monophyly. Perineal region of females indicates the closeness of the vulval-anal distance, as a derived character, which is shared by Atalodera and most Thecavermiculatus spp. suggesting possible monophyly. T. andinus, while having a similar en face pattern to J2 of other Thecavermiculatus species, lacks the derived character of the perineal region. Phasmid openings were not observed in adults of any of the species examined. Key words: en face pattern, perineal region, phasmid, phylogeny, SEM, systematics, vulva.