Familia Berytidae Fieber, 1851

Family BERYTIDAE Fieber, 1851 - Stilt-bugs

J. Péricart

The rather little family Berytidae includes about 45 genera and 155 species. It contains some of the most strange and morphologically diverse forms among Heteroptera. A number of them have an elongated body and display long and slender appendages, especially legs, which give them the current name of stilt bugs in the English literature, but some possess short appendages; one knows Berytids armed with erect spines or globose tubercles on head, pronotum and sometimes even hemelytra. Despite careful studies like those performed by V. G. Putshkov in Ukraine on Palaearctic species, the biology of these slowly walking, rarely flying bugs remains poorly known; in most cases in our countries, they seem to be mainly phytophagous, frequently tied to viscous glandular plants, but efficient entomophagous diets do exist. Almost nothing can be written about ecology of tropical species.

Berytids are trichophorous Heteroptera that must be included in the Lygaeoidea complex of Pentatomomorpha. Their head bear ocelli, four-segmented antennae and a rather slender, three-segmented rostrum. Most parts of the body are in many cases punctured or reticulated; scutellum ends not rarely with a long apical erected spine; wing polymorphism occurs frequently in some groups; evaporative areas of metathoracic glands, always present, have often evolved a long protruding peritreme. Hemelytral membranes show 5-6 veins like those of Lygaeids. Legs frequently have apically swollen femora; tarsi are 3-segmented, their claws with arolia. Genitalia are symmetrical, males bear two symmetrical claspers, and females have well-developed ovipositors.

Eggs have no operculum, and larvae develop in five instars; all known larvae bear two dorsal scent glands and some, at minus during their youth, possess erect glandular setae.

In the most recent works, Berytids were subdivided in two subfamilies, Berytinae and Metacanthinae; resulting from a recent cladistic analysis, Henry (1997a) proposed to elevate this number to three, by recognizing a subfamily status to Gampsocorini, formerly included in Metacanthinae. We shall adopt here this division.

World catalogues: Lethierry & Severin, 1894 (outdated); Henry & Froeschner, 1998, 2000 (with summary of known host plants for each species). Palaearctic catalogue: Oshanin, 1906; Péricart, 2001b. Classification: Henry, 1997a. Monographs: West-Palaearctic - Péricart, 1984a; Ukraine - V. G. Putshkov, 1974a; Americas - Henry, 1997c. Faunistic works: Europe - Stichel, 1957; British Isles - Southwood & Leston, 1959; former European Soviet Union - Kiritshenko, 1951a; Yakutia - Vinokurov, 1985a; China - Hsiao, 1974b.

Outside these synthetic contributions, one must acknowledge a number of excellent descriptive papers by Štusák who devoted considerable effort and skill to the knowledge of Berytids at a worldwide scale, and sadly died before to prepare himself this present Chapter of the Catalogue.