Familia Plataspidae Dallas, 1851

Family PLATASPIDAE Dallas, 1851

J. Davidová-Vilímová

The family includes 59 genera and at least 530 species described. The genera are classified in two subfamilies, Plataspinae and Coptosomatinae, however, the systematic position of most of them is uncertain. The most abundant is genus Coptosoma with 280 species. Only three other genera include more than 10 species (Brachyplatys, Libyaspis and Megacopta), many genera are monotypic.

The Plataspidae are distributed in the Eastern Hemisphere only (about erroneous records from America, see Froeschner, 1984); most of the species inhabit the tropics and subtropics, only the genus Coptosoma occurs in the temperate Palaearctics.

The representatives of Plataspidae closely resemble beetles in their general body shape. They are mostly strongly convex, widely oval to ovoid, from 2 to 20 mm long, and the width can even exceed the length. The head shape is sexually dimorphic in some species, male mandibular plates protruding to form horns; the scutellum of all the Plataspidae is conspicuously hypertrophied, covering the entire dorsum of the abdomen; the fore wings, which are longer than the abdomen, are folded under the scutellum through transverse constrictions.

Several tropical species are known to develop a true ootheca to cover the egg batches. Coptosoma scutellatum, common in the Western Palaearctics, is used as a model species to study the intestine bacterial endosymbiosis and the mode of endosymbiont transmission to the larvae (Carayon, 1949e; H.J. Müller, 1956).

All the Plataspidae are phytophagous, mostly oligophagous or polyphagous, sucking from the phloem of plants, shrubs and trees. Some species are known to be gregarious. The family includes many important pests of tropical cultivated plants, damaging mostly legumes in the Oriental and Australian Regions.

The suprageneric classification is still not established for all genera. Formerly, the African genera were classified in three “generic groups”, Brachyplatys, Coptosoma and Libyaspis (Jessop, 1983). Ahmad (1990) and Ahmad & Moizuddin (1992) assigned in details the two subfamilies mentioned above (these authors erroneously used the name Brachyplatydinae for Plataspinae and Plataspinae for Coptosomatinae). However, the subfamiliar classification has not yet been proposed for most of the genera.

The family Plataspidae is characterized by combination of plesiomorphic and apomorphic characters. Its relationships and phylogeny still are not fully clear. The family was often classified close to the families Aphylidae, Canopidae, Lestoniidae, Megarididae and sometimes Scutelleridae, based particularly on enlarged scutellum (Schaefer, 1988). The Plataspidae, together with the Cydnidae, are thought to be very probably a very early off-shoot of the superfamily Pentatomoidea (Davidová-Vilímová & Štys, 1980).

World catalogues (all outdated): Lethierry & Severin, 1893; Bergroth, 1908a; Kirkaldy, 1909a. Palaearctic catalogues: Oshanin, 1906-1910, 1912 (outdated); Stichel, 1962a (outdated); Davidová-Vilímova, 2006. Monographs: Vidal, 1950 (Western Palaearctics, outdated); Hsiao & Ren, 1977 (China); Davidová-Vilímová & Štys, 1980 (Western Palaearctics). Checklists: Hoffmann, 1935c (CH, outdated). Classification: Jessop, 1983; Ahmad, 1990; Ahmad & Moizuddin, 1992. Biology: Miller, 1971.