Hemiptera, or the true bugs, comprise a diverse group of 80,000 insect species with piercing-sucking mouthparts. The true bugs include both plant feeders, such as aphids and cicadas, and predators, such as assassin bugs and bed bugs. Giant water bugs are among the largest of the Hemiptera and can reach over 4.5 inches in length, capable of eating large prey such as frogs and fish. Tiny hemipterans like the root mealybugs may be less than 1 millimeter long, living inconspicuously underground sucking on the roots of plants. Hemiptera is among the most economically important groups as major pests of agriculture and vectors of plant pathogens. In past years, the true bugs accounted for about 40% of identifications and 78% of the regulatory significant interceptions for the entire entomology section.
In total, the FSCA Hemiptera collection has about 450,000 pinned specimens, over 100,000 slides, and several thousand vials of material in alcohol. The FSCA Coccoidea and Aleyrodidae collection is one of the largest and most diverse in the country, sitting amongst the top 4 collections in all of North America in terms of species representation, total specimen numbers, and type holdings. This collection is fully inventoried and consists of mostly slide-mounted material representing about 1000 species.
Major contributions to our Hemiptera collection have been made over many years, both by our past and present staff (M.Z. Ahmed, E.W. Berger, G.W. Dekle, S.E. Halbert, A.B. Hamon, G.S. Hodges, F.W. Mead, G.B. Merrill, I. Stocks, and C.E. Wilson), and by numerous significant donations made by our collaborators and research associates. These contributions built the representation for some of these groups to be among the best in the world. Most notably, R.M. Baranowski (Lygaeoidea), D. Burckhardt (Psylloidea), J.E. Eger (Pentatomoidea), P.H. Freytag (Cicadellidae), T.J. Henry (Miridae and other Heteroptera), F.W. Mead (Melanoliarus, Cicadellidae), D.R. Miller (Coccoidea), L.B. O’Brien (Fulgoroidea), M.J. Rothschild (Membracidae), A.F. Sanborn (Cicadidae), C.F. Smith (Aphididae), A.N. Tissot (Aphididae), P. Wygodzinsky (Triatominae) have contributed large numbers of identified specimens, helped substantially with identifications, or both.