Familia Piesmatidae

Family PIESMATIDAE Amyot & Serville, 1843

E. Heiss & J. Péricart

The family includes 6 genera and about 40 species, more than half of them belonging to the Holarctic genera Piesma and Parapiesma. The four extralimital genera show a restricted distribution: Afropiesma Péricart, 1974 (Africa); Mcateella Drake, 1924 (Australia); Miespa Drake, 1948 (Chile) and Thaicoris Kormilev, 1969 (Thailand). All species are small, ranging from 1.25-4 mm and have the same general appearance as the lacebug family Tingidae, where they have been placed systematically until Reuter (1910a). They are distinguished, however, by the scutellum not covered by the pronotum and the presence of ocelli and a stridulatory apparatus. Nymphs are similar to adults and have normally five instars. All representatives are strictly phytophagous, feeding preferably on Chenopodiaceae and Caryophyllaceae (Piesma, Parapiesma) and most possibly on Leguminosae as Acacia (Afropiesma, Mcateella).

Only two species, Parapiesma quadratum in Europe and Parapiesma cinereum in North America gained economical importance as severe agricultural pests, transmitting virus diseases affecting sugar and fodder beets. Smaller damages are reported from Piesma maculatum.

Most important publications: Horváth, 1906a (synopsis); Drake & Davis, 1958 (morphol., syst.); Lee & Park, 1971 (biol.); Schaefer, 1972, 1981a (phylog.); Péricart, 1974b (syst.); V.G. Putshkov, 1974a (biol., faun.); Heiss & Péricart, 1975 (syn.), 1983 (monogr.).

Note: Despite several recent studies on heteropteran phylogeny by different authors, the placement of the family Piesmatidae within the infraorder Pentatomomorpha is still inconsistent. Štys (1961b) put them in their own superfamily Piesmatoidea, a classification which was followed by Štys (1964, 1967), Štys & Kerzhner (1975), Schuh (1986), Henry & Froeschner (1988) but not adopted in the present catalogue. Schaefer (1993), Schuh & J.A. Slater (1995) however, placed them in the Lygaeoidea and Henry (1997b) corroborated this arrangement and recognized Piesmatidae including two subfamilies Piesmatinae and Psamminae within the superfamily Lygaeoidea. Future studies will show how far this proposed classification obtains general acceptance.