Familia Leptopodidae Brullé, 1836

Family LEPTOPODIDAE Brullé, 1836 - ghost bugs

P. Lindskog

The family includes 35 recent species of 9 genera divided into 2 subfamilies, according to the suprageneric classification of Schuh & J.T. Polhemus (1980) (Schuh & al., 1987). The Leptopodinae (8 genera, 34 species) are restricted to the Old World (excepting one species introduced to the New World). The New World Leptosaldinae, with the sole recent taxon Saldolepta kistnerorum Schuh & Polhemus and a Miocene amber fossil (Leptosalda chiapensis Cobben) from Mexico, have recently been transferred to the Omaniidae by Popov (1985, 1989) (see the introductory notes on the latter family), proposing that the Leptopodidae is an exclusively Old World group. The Palaearctic Leptopodidae are centred in the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and the Middle Asian countries of the former Soviet Union (the Irano‑turanian subregion).

Disregarding the small extralimital (Oriental) tribe Leotichiini, the leptopodine bugs (Leptopodini) stand out as a basically saxicolous group, living between and on stones and rocks in various environments. Generally, they are quite agile insects, some readily taking to flight. Some species are mainly or exclusively associated with riparian habitats like the allied Saldidae, being found on large boulders in streams or on steep rock walls and various concrete structures along stream margins (Valleriola) or beneath stones (Leptopus, Erianotus). Other species are mainly or exclusively found below stones and among agglomerations of stones in pronouncedly xerothermic habitats lacking association with water, and may also be encountered under the bark of trees (Patapius). They are all predators and the few prey records include psocopterans and chironomid midges.

The Leptopodidae are in urgent need of a revision on species and genus levels. The last revision of the family is the classic paper by Horváth (1911c). An updated key to all currently recognized genera of the tribe Leptopodini is provided by J.T. Polhemus & D.A. Polhemus (1991).

World catalogue: Schuh & al., 1987. Palearctic catalogue: Lindskog, 1995c. Monograph: W Europe and NW Africa ‑ Péricart, 1990. Faunal reviews: Iran ‑ Hoberlandt, 1983; Italy ‑ Faraci & Rizzotti Vlach, 1992; Spain ‑ Baena & Vázquez, 1989. Biology: Péricart, 1990.