Bulletin 441

Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station

R. Dennis Rouse,
Director

Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama

December 1972

The Leaf Beetles of Alabama (Coleopterea: Chrysomelidae)


By: Edward U. Balsbaugh, Jr., and Kirby L. Hays


Balsbaugh is a former Graduate Assistant, Department of Zoology-Entomolgy, now Associate Professor, Entomolgy-Zoology, South Dakota State University; and Hays is a Professor, Department of Zoology-Entomology.


Table of Contents


Introduction

Collection and Preservation Techniques

Additional Sources

Taxonomy

Systematics

Summary

Acknowledgment

Literature Cited


Introduction

In the early days of American entomology the collecting of insect specimens and recording of natural history data from the Deep South were sporadic and sparse. Areas particularly lacking in this type of study were western Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Working together, E. A. Schwarz and H. G. Hubbard collected beetles in the South. In the latter part of the 19th century they made many collecting trips to Florida in the interest of obtaining specimens for the Detroit Scientific Association, which they had founded (50). Mr. Schwarz also collected Chrysomelidae at Selma, Alabama (63), one of the first collections of this family from the State. Other collectors in the South at about the turn of the century, who collected beetles along with other insects, included F. Knab, H. S. Barber, and J. C. Bridwell.
More recently the results of surveys of Chrysomelidae of several Southern States have been published: Florida (31), Georgia (57), South Carolina (67, 68), and Mississippi (49). These are primarily checklists and are not descriptive or analytic. Such a checklist-without keys or descriptions-was compiled for Alabama by Loding (75). Loding, an amateur naturalist, resided in Mobile and contributed more to the study of Alabama Coleoptera than anyone else. His catalogue listed 88 families, 1,041 genera, and 2,770 species and varieties, including 259 forms of 83 genera of Chrysomelidae. His collection is presently maintained at the University of Alabama, University, Alabama.
Although Loding's contribution to coleopterology was remarkable, it nevertheless does not discourage further investigations of this kind for the State. Additional distribution records are direly needed for zoogeographic studies and economic entomology. A thorough knowledge of the native fauna is valuable in recognizing introduced species, which are the potentially more dangerous economic pests.
Because the present work includes keys and descriptions, it is decidedly more useful than Loding's checklist. It also serves to identify a large percentage of the Chrysomelidae of the South eastern United States. Based on records by Kirk (67), 80.6 percent of the South Carolina species of Chrysomelidae are common to Alabama and South Carolina. Based on Fattig's (57) list for Georgia, 93.3 per cent of that state's species are common to Alabama and Georgia.
Other than the publication on work by Park (82) on the pselaphid beetles of Alabama, this bulletin is the only taxonomic paper for an entire Alabama beetle family.


Collection and Preservation Techniques

Collecting of specimens by the senior author was begun in the spring of 1963 and continued through summer 1965. During this period trips were made to various locales throughout the State and samples taken from sites such as roadsides, state and national parks, county lakes, and national forests. Since the collecting localities covered all parts of the State and were often visited more than once, a fair representation of chrysomelid beetles from Alabama's various faunal zones is believed to have been obtained.
The most frequently employed collecting techniques were beating and sweeping various types of vegetation. This was also done at night to obtain the nocturnal forms. Collections at lights and from light traps were also made, even though only a small percentage of chrysomelids are positively phototropic. Finally, larvae and adults of particular species were sought by scanning the vegetation of known preferred host plants. (The presence of beetles is frequently indicated by feeding damage to the plants.) The immatures of a few species were reared to adults in the laboratory, but larvae collected are not treated in this paper. Adults were usually killed in a cyanide bottle and then mounted on insect pins or points in the laboratory. Larvae were preserved in Hood's solution.


Additional Sources

A few specimens of Alabama Chrysomelidae were in the Auburn University Entomology Museum when the authors began their survey. These were identified and utilized for distributional and seasonal data, and as models for descriptions.
Primary among other museum sources was the University of Alabama (UANH), which maintains the extensive Henry P. Loding collection of Coleoptera. Less numerous Alabama records were obtained from the F. R. Mason collection at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (ANSP), the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Insect Collection (PADA), and the Division of Insects, United States National Museum (USNM). The latter undoubtedly contains more examples than are recorded here. Records were also obtained from the literature.


Taxonomy

Identification of Alabama chrysomelids was accomplished by three methods. First, assembled specimens were compared with previously determined material. The sources of these identified specimens included the personal collection of the senior author and those of Henry P. Loding, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and the United States National Museum. The accuracy of previous identifications could be evaluated by the reputation of the respective taxonomists. Authorities on several genera were called on to make identifications and verifications, as noted in the acknowledgments. Finally, the taxonomic literature was utilized to obtain both original descriptions and subsequent revisions. References to these sources are frequently indicated in remarks under the various taxa. In making identifications, dissection of some specimens was necessary to examine the genitalic characters.
Because the purpose of the present study was faunistic and not revisionary, original taxonomic changes have been kept to a minimum. Only in a few instances have new synonymies or new specific validations been made. No name changes have been made in many groups where a more thorough taxonomic review is needed. These situations have been frequently indicated.
Some of the keys used are original and some are modifications of old ones. The adaptations were done chiefly to compensate for regional variations. In one case (properly credited) keys are quoted verbatim.
Incomplete generic and specific synonymies are presented in chronological sequence, including only original references to each name. Nomenclatorical changes are designated in bold-faced type. Complete citations of the majority of bibliographic sources, greatly abbreviated by the author, can be found in Blackwelder (14).
Descriptions usually are brief. The more nondescript species have required longer diagnoses. Following the descriptions are the county distributions of each species. Superscripts have been employed to indicate the source of these records: 1 indicated specimens from the Auburn University Entomology Museum; 2 the Loding collection; 3 either Loding's catalogue (without further notation) or museum sources (credited by the respective abbreviations listed in the section "Additional Sources", p. 7).
Only species known to have been collected in the State are included. An asterisk (*) behind the species name indicates a new State record. The sequence of presentation of species within a genus follows that of its most recent revisor.
The figure given with the county distributions is the total number of specimens seen from the State.
A few discrepancies have been noted between Loding's collection and his catalogue. Either records have been erroneously included in his catalogue or the specimens are now missing from his collection.
Treatment of Loding's collection by the authors has been as follows. No specimens have been kept. Miscellaneous unidentified specimens have been determined and incorporated into the collection proper. (It was from some of this material that an undescribed species of Disonycha was discovered.) All original determination labels have been retained on the pins. The series of specimens of a species follows Loding's arrangement as closely as possible. To do this was at times quite difficult because of the great disarray and crowding of his specimens. Some of the same species were found in different sections of his collection. The reordering of these beetles required the addition of 2 more Schmitt boxes, making a total of 12 for his Chrysomelidae. Some of the determination labels were folded and replaced on their respective pins when it was learned that the specimens were incorrectly identified or the names had changed. However, the authors are not responsible for the removal of determination labels from species of Disonycha, Capraita, or Kuschelina. Although these labels are still intact they were discovered to be no longer associated with specimens but simply placed as a group on three otherwise empty pins. As with the Auburn collection, Arnett (1) has been followed in arrangement of genera in the Loding collection. The arrangement of species usually follows that of the most recent generic revisor.


Systematics

The family Chrysomelidae, along with the Cerambycidae and Bruchidae, has been placed by Crowson (46) in the Suborder Polyphaga, Series Cucujiformia, Superfamily Chrysomeloidea. The families of this superfamily share many characters, but members of the Chrysomelidae may be distinguished by their bilobed third tarsal segments (except in the subfamily Chrysomelinae where they are entire or nearly so); their relatively short antennae (usually less than two-thirds as long as the body), which are inserted on the front of the head; their entire or emarginate eyes (but when emarginate not surrounding the antennae); their general shape (convex oval or flattened); and their ecological habits (root or leaf-feeding).

Key to the Alabama Subfamilies of Chrysomelidae

  1. Head with vertex projecting strongly forward, mouth directed posteriorly ( Fig. 1 )... 2
    Head normal, vertex not projecting forward, mouth anterior (Fig. 2)... 3
  2. Pronotum and elytra with broad marginal expansions, pronotal margins often covering head (Fig. 1)... Cassidinae
    Pronotum and elytra without broad marginal expansions; head never covered, exposed...Hispinae
  3. Pygidium declivous, exposed, not covered by the elytra (Fig. 3); second and third visible abdominal sternites narrowed medially... 4
    Elytra covering pygidium, second and third visible abdominal sternites not narrowed medially... 7
  4. Body surfaces uniformly even, not tuberculate; pleura of prothorax without antennal grooves... 5
    Body surfaces rough or tuberculate (Fig. 4); pleura of prothorax with grooves for antennae...Chlamisinae
  5. Antennae serrate or clavate-serrate; head prominent, exerted from prothorax... 6
    Antennae filiform or clavate; head deeply set into prothorax (Fig. 5)... Cryptocephalinae
  6. Head constricted behind eyes; eyes large, deeply emarginate (Fig. 6)... Zeugophorinae
    Head usually not constricted behind eyes; eyes usually not large, nor deeply emarginated...Clytrinae
  7. Antennal insertions separated by entire width of frons; if approximate, 1st visible abdominal sternite no longer than 2nd and 3rd combined... 8
    Antennal insertions nearly approximate; 1st visible abdominal sternite as long as all others combined (Fig. 7)... Donaciinae
  8. Prothorax with incomplete lateral margins; eyes prominent; head somewhat constricted behind eyes... 9
    Prothorax with complete lateral margins; eyes not prominent; head not especially constricted behind the eyes (Fig. 2)... 10
  9. Tarsal claws bifid (Fig. 8); prothorax sinuate laterally (Fig. 9);,elytra with scattered pubescence... Orsodacninae
    Tarsal claws simple; prothorax evenly convex laterally; elytra glabrous... Criocerinae
  10. Antennae closely inserted on front of head... 11
    Antennal insertions separated by width of frons... 12
  11. Posterior femora enlarged, adapted for jumping (Fig. 10)... Alticinae
    Posterior femora slender, not greatly enlarged... Galerucinae
  12. Third tarsal segment bilobed (Fig. 11); procoxae round; cubital veins of wings present...Eumolpinae
    Third tarsal segment entire or indistinctly bilobed (Fig. 12), if apparently distinctly bilobed then procoxae are transversely oval; cubital veins absent...Chrysomelinae

    Subfamily Donaciinae
    Subfamily Orsodacninae
    Subfamily Criocerinae
    Subfamily Zeugophorinae
    Subfamily Clytrinae
    Subfamily Cryptocephalinae
    Subfamily Chlamisinae
    Subfamily Eumolpinae
    Subfamily Chrysomelinae
    Subfamily Galerucinae
    Subfamily Alticinae
    Subfamily Hispinae
    Subfamily Cassidinae

Summary

From the results of a survey of literature, a review of museum materials and field collections throughout Alabama made between spring 1963 and summer 1965, a list of the known Chrysomelidae of Alabama has been compiled. Descriptions of and keys to these species and their supraspecific taxa are presented. Notes on the biology, ecology, seasonal and geographical distributions are included, as well as occasional remarks on taxonomy.
The following original taxonomic changes are made:
New Synonymy
New Rank
New Combination


Acknowledgment

Assistance toward the completion of this investigation came from several sources. Persons who have aided by either making or verifying identifications, loaning or otherwise facilitating examinations of specimens in their care, loaning of manuscripts or making gifts of reprints, and being of other general assistance include: Doris H. Blake, Arlington, Virginia; W. J. Brown, Canada Department of Agriculture; Oscar L. Cartwright, United States National Museum; Ralph Chermock, while at University of Alabama; Vernon M. Kirk, Brookings, South Dakota; Edward J. F. Marx, Merchantville, New Jersey; Milton W. Sanderson, Illinois Natural History Survey; George B. Sleesman, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture; Ray F. Smith, University of California, Berkeley; George B. Vogt, United States Department of Agriculture; and John A. Wilcox, New York State Museum and Science Service. We are indeed grateful for their help. Study specimens have also been received both as personal gifts and donations to the Auburn University Entomology Museum. Most of these have been collections by graduate students. To these numerous friends go our sincere thanks for their special collecting efforts. We particularly desire to recognize the National Defense Education Act grant which supported the study. We are indebted to Miss Mary Lou Marsh for portions of the art work.


Literature Cited

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