Thirty-nine new species of endemic cockroach discovered in the southwestern US and Mexico

Feb 26, 2014
Thirty-nine new species of endemic cockroach discovered in the southwestern US and Mexico
This image shows sexual dimorphism in Arenivaga; adult male on left, adult female on right. Credit: Heidi Hopkins

A genus of cockroach in the poorly studied family Corydiidae has been revised for the first time since 1920. The revision has resulted in the discovery and description of 39 new species of Arenivaga, a genus which previously held nine species. The Corydiidae family of roaches is found worldwide and its constituents are frequently found in harsh, dry habitats not usually associated with cockroaches. They are also often subterranean in their habits making their presence easily overlooked.

The study was completed over a four-year period by Heidi Hopkins, who is a cockroach taxonomic specialist and PhD candidate at the University of New Mexico, Museum of Southwestern Biology, in Albuquerque, NM. Her results have been published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

'The extent of the radiation of this genus is quite surprising', said Hopkins. 'These animals have remarkable adaptations that allow them to succeed in some of the harshest places on earth. I suspect that the thorough application of modern collection methods would reveal many more species of Arenivaga across Mexico, and many more species of Corydiidae in the deserts and dry places of the rest of the world.'

Arenivaga, also known as desert or sand , are dramatically sexually dimorphic, meaning that the females look nothing like the males. This makes the association of female specimens of a species with male specimens of the same species very difficult. Hopkins' work is based on male specimens only, and are separated from one another by characters of the genitalia, which are incredibly complex.

Thirty-nine new species of endemic cockroach discovered in the southwestern US and Mexico
This image shows the distribution of Arenivaga before and after Hopkins' research. Credit: Heidi Hopkins

'The order Blattodea (cockroaches) which includes termites, comprise some of the earth's greatest decomposers. They are the planet's recyclers and clearly they have a role to play even in terrain with very little plant matter requiring decomposition. We can no longer think of cockroaches as creatures restricted to the moisture of the tropics.'

Thirty-nine new species of endemic cockroach discovered in the southwestern US and Mexico
This is an example of the complexity of the male genitalia of Arenivaga. Credit: Heidi Hopkins

Hopkins has great admiration and passion for cockroaches. She will continue her work by beginning a revision of the poorly understood family Corydiidae during her post doc at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ.

Explore further: Natural History Museum, London, yields remarkable new beetle specimens from Brazil

More information: ZooKeys 384: 1–256. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.384.6197

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Three new wafer trapdoor spiders from Brazil

Nov 20, 2013

Scientists discover three new gorgeous species of the wafer trapdoor genus Fufius – F. minusculus, F. jalapensis, and F. candango. The discovery of the three new species, published in the open access journal ...

Recommended for you

Ninety-eight new beetle species discovered in Indonesia

5 hours ago

Ninety-eight new species of the beetle genus Trigonopterus have been described from Java, Bali and other Indonesian islands. Museum scientists from Germany and their local counterparts used an innovative approa ...

A vegetarian carnivorous plant

Dec 19, 2014

Carnivorous plants catch and digest tiny animals in order and derive benefits for their nutrition. Interestingly the trend towards vegetarianism seems to overcome carnivorous plants as well. The aquatic carnivorous bladderwort, ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

foolspoo
5 / 5 (1) Feb 26, 2014
Evolution, folks.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.