Hemiptera: India

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Faunal Diversity in India: Hemiptera

This is an extract from


Edited by

J. R. B. Alfred

A. K. Das

A. K. Sanyal.

ENVIS Centre,

Zoological Survey of India,



( J. R. B. Alfred was

Director, Zoological Survey of India)



The Hemiptera are one of the largest and most important exopterygote insects. They are commonly known as bugs and have piercing and sucking type of mouth parts. The group is divided into two suborders viz., i) Homoptera containing 8 superfamilies which include Aphids, Mealy bugs, Cicadas, Psyllids, White flies, Leafhoppers, Tree hoppers, etc., and ii) Heteroptera consisting of 14 superfamilies which include Stink and Shieldbugs, Assassin bugs, Lace bugs, etc., and 14 other families of water bugs which are effectively predaceous on zooplanktons and other aquatic microfauna.

Most of the species entail direct or indirect injury to various vegetations and are often destructive, like the Leafhoppers (Cicadellidae), the white flies (Aleyrodidae), the plantlice (Aphididae) and the scale insects (Coccidae). The extensive damage caused by these insects is due to the very fast rate of reproduction by parthenogenesis in case of many Homoptera. Some of the Coccids are, however, beneficial. The Hemiptera, in general, are phytophagous and feed on roots, leaves, sterns, fruits and seeds. Some cause malformations like galls. Among the heteropterans, some are predaceous in nature and some like the Cimicidae (Bed bugs), the Triatominae and Polyctenidae are blood suckers.

Status Of The Taxon

Global and Indian Status

India being a tropical country has a very rich insect fauna which comprises more than 80% of the known species of the world fauna. Of these, Indian Hemiptera, one of the largest exopterygote insects, consists of about 6,500 species distributed over 77 families and constitues a little over 8% of the hemipterans known from the world. Among 77 families, aquatic and semiaquatic hemipterans cover a little over 200 species belonging to 14 families, the remaining are terrestrial consisting of about 6,300 species belonging to 63 families. The aquatic and semiaquatic habitats harbour a sizeable population of species in Hemiptera.


Hemipteran insects belonging to certain genera are observed to have restricted distribution, occurring in Eastern Himalayas, Western Himalayas or Peninsular India and often showing their Indo-chinese and Malayan affinities. Compilation of data reveals that most of the species of North East and North West regions are distributed in Himalayan ranges between altitude about 750 m and 4000 m and only a few from foot hills or lower hilly areas. In the Peninsular India there occurs about one-sixth of the total number of hemipteran species found in India whereas in the Gangetic plains as well as in the Indus plains said fauna is rather negligible.

The biogeographical diversity of India is well reflected in the distribution and abundance of flora and fauna. Aphid-host plant association, as for instance, is a typical example where about 650 aphid species infest 1250 plant species belonging to nearly 700 genera and 75 families against about a total plant species of 45,000 in India. Inspite of the vast differences in floral distribution and faunal composition in different biogeographical regions of India, there is hardly any attempt to analyse the biogeographical peculiarities in respect of abundance, endemism in different regions, host plant association and polyphagism of the soft¬bodied homopterans in particular and other hemipterans in general. Discontinous distribution of fauna and flora is observed between southern range including Sri Lanka and the Eastern Himalayas, Assam, Burma and Malaya. Many workers have observed this phenomenon in several groups including Hemiptera.

Biological Diversity And Its Special Feature

A perusal of literature reveals that a great diversity of hemipteran insects is found in the Eastern and Northeastern Himalayas where the Hemiptera fauna is an admixture of Palaearctic, Chinese and Malayasian fauna. Similar is the case with the Western Himalaya which includes mainly Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Kumaon and Garhwal ranges of Uttar Pradesh where four phytogeographical zones are observed, viz., tropical, subtropical, temperate and alpine zones. It is seen that subtropical zone is represented chiefly by rich aphid fauna both qualitatively and quantitatively, when compared to the tropical temperate and alpine zones. Here, the subfamily Aphidinae has higher frequency of occurrence than any other subfamilies. It is also observed that many hemipteran species occurring in the above areas are found in similarity with the fauna of Tibet, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Middle East. With the temperate climate and forests of Oak, Pine, Cedar, etc., these areas provided habitat for little known and rare species of Hemiptera. On the other hand, in the Indian Peninsula, Gangetic and Indus plains, diversity of hemipteran fauna is rather poor. The above concept may be explained as follows.

An analysis or regionwise distribution of some hemipteran groups like Aphididae in India reveals that species diversity and abundance are more in hilly terrains which meet with subtropical to warm temperate climate and represents the transition area between the realms of Oriental and Palaearctic. Genera wise break up of the group indicates that out of about 212 genera so far known from India, N. E. and N. W. India represent about 160 and 130 genera respectively whereas Peninsular India, Gangetic plains and Indus plains represent about 130, 60 and 35 genera respectively. Both N. E. and N.

W. India represent genera belonging to all the subfamilies of Aphididae (Homoptera). Any representative of the subfamily Anoeciinae is apparently absent in Peninsular India. Likewise, the subfamily Lachninae is apparently absent in Gangetic plains. It is worthwhile to mention that the genera belonging to subfamilies Aphidinae and Callipterinae are found to occur in all the regions of India and those of Aphidinae are most abundant throughout the country in comparison to other subfamilies. Further, it appears that percentage composition in subfamilies viz., Aphidinae, Greenideinae, Hormaphidinae, Lachninae, Drepanosiphinae and also Pemphiginae recorded in the Himalayan region is apparently high. The Indian Peninsula having the Eastern and Western Ghat and the Vindhya ranges as well as the Gangetic and Indus plains represent rather poor aphid taxa.

Some hemipterans like plant lice exhibit peculiar diversity in the pattern of life cycle also. It is unique and highly adapted for individual species with a view to reproduce successfully, to tide over some adverse conditions and to avai! of the maximum chances for survival. It is observed that in nature, sexuales of about 13% of the total number of species have been so far known mostly from the elevations in India. This may be explained by the fact that low temperature, short day length and physiological condition of plants are the factors for production of sexual forms.

It is interesting to note that out of about 650 species of aphids recorded from India, sexual morphs have been recorded for only 120 species and about 530 species are known from parthenogenetic viviparous forms. A majority (115) of species known by sexual forms are distributed in the temperate regions and only 5 species are so far known to produce sexuales in tropical regions of the country. But astonishingly enough, sexual morph (Apterons oviparous females) of Mustard aphid has been discoverd (L. K. Ghosh and Rajendran 1988) recently in the Arid and Semiarid Zones (Rajasthan) where general faunal picture in almost all hemipteran groups including Aphids is poor.

The diversity of these phytophagous group of insects depends not on vegetational diversity alone but also on temperature and relative humidity. India, though tropical and subtropical on latitudinal consideration, has great assemblage of arctic to tropical climatic conditions because of its physiography influenced by Himalayan and Peninsular hills, mountains and uplands, and monsoon influenced by wind currents from the Indian ocean. This has led to more diverse and congenial ecological niches and habitats providing situations for many soft-bodied homopterans.


Endemism has been found to be highly correlated with total number of species found in different regions and in different subfamilies of Aphididae in particular. This, however, may be not be applicable to all the hemipteran group of Insects. Species diversity and endemism in certain families of hemiptera of economic importance are shown in Table 1.

Table-l Showing endemism in some hemipteran families of economic importance Suborder Family Species (N) Endemic % Species (N) Homoptera Aphididae 650 422 65 Psyllidae 120 69 57.5 Cicadellidae 680 306 45 Membracidae 200 94 47 Coccoidea 667 271 40.6 (Super family) Heteroptera Lygaeidae 260 130 50 (Aquatic and Semiaquatic bugs) 14 families 216 43 20


The representatives of these hemipteran group of insects have enormous scientific, ecological and economical values. Aquatic bugs are important from the view point of water pollution. Some members of waterbugs destroy fishfry, tadpoles, etc., and are responsible for economic loss to the fish culture. Some members belonging to Cimicidae, Triatominae and Polyctenidae are blood suckers and are reported to carry diseases.

Some heteropterans are predaceous and thus keep check on populations of other insect pests. On the otherhand, there are some beneficial insects in Hemiptera such as the lac insects. India produces the largest quantity of lac in the World. Moreover, there are some more beneficial Hemiptera like wax insects, Cochineal insect and the lantana bug. Also, aquatic Hemiptera are effectively predaceous on zooplanktons and thus, play an important role in the aquatic ecosystem for transformation of energy. Because of their predatory habit, some aquatic bugs are studied for the biological control of mosquito larvae. The LethoCl!TlIS among water bugs kills even a full grown frog and even a small woodpecker, while some Belostomatids are known to feed on snails, potential vectors of Schistosomiasis.

Threats And Conservation Strategies

i) For control of hemipterous pest species, indiscriminate use of chemicals/ insecticides should preferably be stopped. Because in chemical control schedule some benefical insects are also killed along with harmful ones. Instead, biological control method should be encouraged so that ecological balance is restored. Uses of pheromones as insect repellent may be used as one of the tools of biological control programme. ii) Farming the beneficial hemiptera like lac insect is to be implemented on a large scale because it is directly involved in Indian economy.

iii) The human interference in the destruction of habitat through deforestation, urbanisation and agricultural extension should be discouraged through Act, if possible. iv) Since most of the hemipterans are phytophagous and host specific in many cases, attention should be given to preserve the food plants so that ecological harmony is maintained. Also, where natural forests are severely depleted, the plantation forestry should be initiated.

v) Collection of large number of specimens of a particular species should be discouraged because this practice may bring the population below the thresold of recovery. vi) Human interference in aquatic ecosystem is gradually causing shrinkage in wetland hemipteran fauna. In near future, it may become a threat to some of the beneficial aquatic bugs. This practice should be resisted and also measures should be taken to control pollution through extensive use of pesticides and industrial effluents. vii) More public awareness is necessary about the conservation needs of some important hemipteran species, such as lac insects and their host plants. ==Future Studie==s Although a good number of hemipteran species including an appreciable number of endemic ones are on record, the real numbers are likely to be much higher. Many biogeographical areas of the contry are yet to be fully explored and also, there are several groups that have not been studied in depth due to lack of either material or expertise. Further, fauna of aquatic habitats have received scanty attention. It is, therefore, expected that in years to come, with extensive and intensive collection of materials round the year and subsequent study could no doubt reveal a greater number of Hemiptera in India. Since the knowledge on biology of a good number of hemipteran pest species is meagre in India, a serious study on bionomics of such important species including endemic ones may be taken up in collaboration with different Indian Universities. Further, scientific studies are necessary to establish the population sizes of each species.

Lastly, wetland fauna of Hemiptera is not well explored in Inida. Sincere efforts may, therefore, be made to study these insects based on the systematic collections of base line data from diverse habitats such as waterfalls, slowmoving rivulets, fastflowing moutain streams, pools & puddles including most of freshly dried river beds. The serious study may reveal interesting results so far as aquatic hemipteran insects are concerned.

Selected References

Ali, S. M. 1969-1974. A catalogue of the Oriental Coccoidea (parts I-V). Indian Mus. Bull., Calcutta, 4(1) : 67-83 (1969); 4(2) : 38-73 (1969); 5(1) : 9-94 (1970); 5(2) : 71-150 (1970); 6(2) : 7-82 (1974).

Ananthasubramanian, K. S. and Ananthakrishnan, T. N. 1975. Taxonomic, Biological and Ecological studies on some Indian Membracids (Insecta: Hemoptera). Rec. zool. Surv. India, 68(1-4) : 161-272, 305-340.

Chakrabarti, S. Revision of the Drepanosiphinae (Homoptera : Aphididae) from the Indian subregion. Oriental Ins., 22 : 1-86.

Chopra, N. P. 1967. The higher classification of the family Rhopalidae (Hemiptera). Trans. R. ent. Soc., London, 119 : 363-399.

David, B. V. and Subramanian, T. R. 1976. Studies on some Indian Aleyrodidae. Rec. zool. Surv India, 70 : 133-233.

Distant, W. L. 1902-1918. The Fauna of British India, Rhynchota. 1: 1-438 (1902); 2 : 1-503 (1904); 3 : 1-503 (1906); 4 : 1-501 (1908); 5 : 1-361 (1910); 6 : 1-248 (1916); 7 : 1-210 (1918), Taylor and Francis, London.

Olltta, B and Ghosh, L. K. 1981. Studies on Oriental Cercopoidea (Hemiptera: Homoptera). Eos, 50 : 41-67.

Dworakowska, I. 1981. On some Typhlocybinae from India, Sri Lanka and Nepal (Homoptera : Auchenorrhyncha : Cicadellidae). Ent. Abk. ierrk, Dresden 44(8) : 153-203. Ghosh, A. K. 1980-1993. The Fauna of India: Aphidoidea (Parts 1-6). Zoological Survey of India, Calcutta: 1 : 1-124 (1980) ; 2 : 1-167 (1982) ; 3 : 1-429 (1984); 4 : 1-429 (1988); 5 : 1-336 (with F. W. Quednau, 1990); 6 : 1-330 (with B. K. Agarwala, 1993).

Kalo, M. 1932. Monograph of Cicadidae : 1-450. Mathur, R. N. 1975. Psyllidae of tire Indian Subcontinent: 1-429, I. C. A. R., New Delhi.

Mukhopadhyay, A. 1988. Taxonomic study of Lygaeidae (Heteroptera : Insecta) from West Bengal. Rec. zool. Suru. India, occ. paper No 107 : 1-72. Raychaudhuri, D. N. (ed.) 1980. Aphids of Northeast India and Bhutan. Zool. Soc., Calcutta: 1-521.

Varshney, R. K. 1977. Taxonomic studies on Lac insects of India (Homoptera : Tachardiidae). Oriental Ins., Suppl, Delhi, 5(1976) : 1-97. Varshney, R. K. 1985. Review of Indian Coccids (Homoptera : Coccoidea). Oriental Ins., Gainesville, 19 : 1-101.


This is an extract from
Protozoa to Mammalia
State of the Art.
Zoological Survey of India, 1991.
By Professor Mohammad Shamim Jairajpuri
Director, Zoological Survey of India
and his team of devoted scientists.
The said book was an enlarged, updated version of
The State of Art Report: Zoology
Edited by Dr. T. N. Ananthakrishnan,
Director, Zoological Survey of India in 1980.

Note: This article is likely to have several spelling mistakes that occurred during scanning. If these errors are reported as messages to the Facebook page, Indpaedia.com your help will be gratefully acknowledged.


In the Insect World, Hemiptera is the largest and most important Order of exopterygote insects. These are small to medium-sized insects called "bugs", with piercing and sucking type of mouth parts, atrophied palpi, labium in the form of a dorsally grooved sheath receiving two pairs of bristle like slylets, and two pairs of wings of which fore wings are often of harder consistancy than hind-wings.

Hemiptera comprises bugs, cicadas, leaf-hoppers, scale insects etc. It is divided into i) Heteroptera, which includes stink arid shield bugs, assassin bugs, lace bugs, bed bugs and many families of water bugs; and ii) Homoptera, which includes cicadas, mealy bugs, •Aphids, Psyllids, Aleyrodids, Cicadellids, Membracids etc.

These insects are of great economic importance. Most of the species entail direct or indirect injury .to various plants. Some are very destructive e.g. leaf hoppers (Cicadellids), the white flies (Aleyrodidae), the plant lice (Aphids) and scale insects (Coccids). The e~tensive damage caused by these insects is due to sucking of plant sap and very fast rate of reproduction (often by parthenogenesis) in case of many Homoptera. Some of the coccids are, however, useful to mankind, because these insects are either the source of stick lac of commerce in India or of dye stuff like cochineal and kermes. Some of the Hemipterans are remarkable for polymorphism and polyphytophagism and feed on leaves, stem, root~, fruit and seeds. Some heteropteran insects are predaceous and thus keep check on the populations of other insect pests; others like Cimicidae (bed bugs), Ttitomidae and Polyctenidae are blood suckers and vectors of various diseases to a variety of crops, vegetable and fruit trees.

Aquatic hemipteran insects are of variable sizes from minute 1.5 .mm to large 110.0 mm, living mainly in len tic and lotic fresh water, some even live in brackish water, only one or two species are marine. They are different in morphology,and feeding habit from their terrestrial forms. Some are truly aquatic, provided with effective swimming and respiratory structures along with modificatin of body shape and size. Olhers are semi-aquatic forms living near the water bodies, on shores, or over the surface, or among the water weeds. Water bugs are effectively predaceous on zooplanktons and other aquatic microfauna ranging from minute mosquito larvae to considerable sizes of fish-fry or tadpoles or other insects, whatsoever they get on their way. Thus, they are predatory and saprophagous and perform an important role in the aquatic ecosystem in nature. Because of their predatory habit some water bugs are studied for the biological control of mosquito larvae, while some others are causing menace to the fish and frog culture by destroying the fishfry and tadpoles in considerable number as their food.

No consolidated account is available on this group of insects but the compilation of the stray published accounts reveal that at present approximately 80,000 species are so far known from the World under the Order Hemiptera of which 6,500 species occur in India.

Probably no other Order of insects than this is so directly concerned with the mankind on account of its direct and indirect injuries to vegetation. Amongst the most destructive species are the cotton strainers, chinch bug, leaf hoppers, white flies, plant lice, scale insects and mealy bugs. Certain Homoptera play vital role in transmitting plant viral diseases e.g. 'mosaic', 'leaf role', 'yellows' etc. Hemipterans are important from the view point of rapid rate of reproduction, polyphagy and complicated life-cycle.

Water bugs like notonectids play important role in biological control of mosquito larvae. Water bugs, predaceous on zooplanktons playa vital role in the aquatic ecosystem for energy transformation. Hemipteran insects afford many instances of resemblance to insects of their own and of other Orders. Varied morphological pecularities are seen among water bugs in relation to their respiration and locomotion (Bueno 1916). Classification of the Order -Hemiptera Knowledge of Oriental Homoptera dates back some 190 years, when Donovan (1800) in his 'Natural History of Insects in India' included two genera, 'Fulgora' and 'Cicada' Atkinson (188S¬89) published a number of notes on Indian Rhynchota including Jassoidea (now Cicadelloidea) in the Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal, and drew attention of Homopterists to the large number of species of Cicadellid~e awaiting examination in India. Other earlier works include Barlow (1886-1899), Buckton (1893-1898) and Cotes (1893). Heteroptera

According to Sharp (1899), the total number of Hemiptera fauna of the World is about 18,000, of which about 12,000 species are Heteroptera. So far as Heteropteran insects of Indian Sub-continent are concerned, Fabricius (1775, 1790, 1794, 1803), Fieber (1844, 1851), Mayr (1853, 1863), Stal (1859-1868) made valuable contributions. Dohrn (1860) was the first who made significant contributions on Heteropteran insect fauna of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). ii) 1901-1947 Mishra (1921) and Singh (1931, 1932, 1940) contributed to the knowledge of Indian homopterans. Later Ayyar (1924), Hussain (1927), Mani (1935-1964) and Mathur (1975) made noteworthy contributions on the homopterans with special references to Psyllids. Also Distant (1904-1908, 1918) and Pruthi (1930-1936) made extensive studies on Indian CicadeUojdea. Frunkhauser (1922, 1933), Chatterjee and Bose (1937) have studied Membracid fauna. Besides Distant's work (1902, 1910), Oltenbach (1928), Chatterjee (1936) and Fraser (1942) have contributed to our knowledge of Cicadidae.

The studies on Indian hemipteran insects got momentum from 1900's, when Distant comprehensively studied the Hemipteran fauna of Indian and adjoining regions. The compilation of the work of Distnat (1902-1918) under seven volumes of 'Fauna of British ]ndia', reveals that about 2300 species occur in the Indian Sub-continent. Kirlaldy (1901) has worked on the Oriental heteropteran insects including some from India. Freunberg (1945) and later Freeman (1947) have revised the genus Dysdercus. Distant had recorded about 150 species of water bugs from Indian Sub-continent belonging to 8 families. Paiva (1918) had recorded some 33 species belonging to 5 families of water bugs from South Sun State (now Burma), of which 13 species were designated as new to science. Hafiz and Mathai (1938), Hafiz and Rebeiro (1939), and HafIZ and Pradhan (1947) have studied the Indian fauna .of water bugs from different places. Hutchinson (1933) had studied the specimens of Notonectidae and Corixidae described by Distant and Paiva, to remove some anomalies regarding their true'identity. Chatterjee (1936) recorded some Coreidae of sandal from India. ii) 1948-1990


Significant contributions have been made by David and Subramanian (1966) on AIeurodidae; Raychaudhuri et al., (1980) and Ghosh, A. K. (1982-1989) on Aphidoidea; Mathur (1975) on PsyUidae; Ananthasubramanian (1975-1981) on Membracidae; Dutta (1988) and Viraktamath (1976) on Cicadellidae; and Ali (1969-1974) and Varshney (1962-1990) on Coccoidea. Valuable contributions have been made by Ghauri (1972) and Muraleedharan (1975) on Anthocoridae; Kormilov (1953-1975) on Aradidae; Mitra, Sen and Muraleedharan (1977) on Pyrrhocoridae; Usinger (1966) and Bhatt (1974) on Cimicidae; Basu and Mitra (1977-1978) on Coreidae; Chopra (1972-1974), Dutta, Ghosh and Dhar (1985) on Pentatomidae; Livingstone (1912) on Tingidae; Brooks (1951) on Notonectidae; Pradhan (1950, 1976) and Gupta (1981) on Gerridae; Venkateshan (1980) on Belostomatidae; Mukhopadhyay (1988) on Lygaeidae; and Thirumalai (1986) on Gerridae and Notonectidae.

Estimation of Taxa

Superfamily Aleurodoidea

Family Aleurodidae : The aleurodids or white flies are serious pest of orchards. They infest the Citrus plant very badly. Butani (1970) published a bibliography of this group. A total of 117 species are known at present from India. Buckton (1903), Peal (1903); Quaintance and Baker (1911); Misra (1923); Dozeier (1928); Singh (1931, 1938, 1940, 1944); Ayyar (1923); Usman and Puttarudraiah (1955); David and Subramanian (1976); Rao (1958) and Nath (1970) have made valuable contributions.

Superfamily Aphidoidca

Family Adelgidae: Adelgids in general have short 2-5 segmented antennae, with 2 primary rhinaria in apterae and 3 in alatae; the wings are usually held roof-like in repose and the cubitus 1 and 2 remain separate in forewing. All adelgids are knwon to feed only on Coniferae and may have as many as 5 generations while leading a heteroceous life cycle.

In the Indian subregion, Stebbing (1904, 1910) was the frrst to study Chermes (now considered syn. of Adelges) alternating between Picea and 'Abies in North West Himalaya. Ayyar (1923) recorded serious damage by Chermes in Coonoor, South India. Schneider -Orelli and Schneider (1954) frrst described a holocyclic species from North West Himalaya. Ghani and Rao (1966) provided an excellent account of biology of two species in the Indian Subregion. Chacko (1973) recorded a Pineus species from Pipe in Shillong. The group is re.presented in the World over• 46 species in 8 genera. In India only' 6 species are known under 3 genera.

Family Aphididae : Aphids are one of the most important group cjf phytophagous insects. They are polymorphic and have complicated biology, besides processing and ability to transmit plant viral diseases. The aphid fauna of India and adjacent countries constitutes about 750 spcies, i.e. 10% of the World fauna comprising of 7500 species. It includes large number of rare and endemic (23%) species. The group is cosmopolitan in distribution.

Studies on Indian aphids were initiated with the work of Barlow (1896-1899), Buckton (1893¬1898) and Cotes (1893). The first comprehensive account on regional fauna was published: by Das (1918) who based his studies on aphids of Lahore (now in Pakistan). Later Fletcher (1914); van der Goot (1916--1917); George (1925-1928); Krishnamurthy (1928-1930); Deshpande (1930, 1937); Ayyar (1937) and Ghulamullah (1940) have worked on Indian aphids specially from Peninsular India. Studies on this group got a momentum from 1960 and many papers have been published as follows: David (1954-1958); Ghosh and Raychaudhuri (1958-1968»; Basu et. ale (1970-1989); Chakrabarti et ale (1970-1989); Ghosh, A. K. (1969-1989); Ghosh, L. K. (1969-1989); Ghosh, M. R. (1976-1989); Agarwala et ale (1977-1989); Rayclutudhuri D. N. (1956-1983); Raychaudhuri, D. (1980-1989); Verma (1965-1989); Behura (1963-1965); Kulkamy (1980-1989) and Kurl (1980-1989).

Superfamily Cercopoidca

Family Cercopidae : The cercopids, known as frog hoppers or cuckoo spit bugs, are important from the economic point of view. The family consists of four subfamilies and nearly 2368 species from the World. Of these, about 10% are respesented in India. The notable Indian workers on this group are Distant (1908) and Dutta &Ghosh (1976).

Superfamily Cicadclloidca

Family Cicadellidae : Cicadellids, usually known as leaf hoppers, are reecognised as one of the most important groups of vectors associated with. transmission of plant viruses and microplasms. In all 115 species of Cicadellids have been reported to transmit 86 plant pathogens. Atkinson (1885) was the firsl to undertake studies on this group in India. The notable workers are Distant (1908, 1916, 1918), Prulhi (1930, 1934, 1936, 1940), Ghauri (1963), Melichar (1900¬1951), Dworakowska (1977), Duua (1963-1989), Viraktamath (1976), Rao (1967-1989) and Ishihara (1989). A comparison of literature reveals that abQut 680 species of Cicadellids are known from India.

Family Membracidae : Commonly known as the tree hoppers, these are chiefly distinguished by the great development of the pronotum, particularly it's pronotal process; ocelli are placed between the eyes; antennae inserted in front of head and between the eyes; and pronotum prolonged backward. A little over 200 species are known from India, as against about 2300 species in the world. The pioneer works arc by Distant (1908, 1916), Evans (1948), Mondal et ale (1958); Ananthasubralnanian and AnanLhakrishnan (1975); Dutta et ale (1978); and Ghosh et al..(1986).

Superfamily Cicadoidea

Family Cicadidae : These are forest insects and are well known for the shrill monotonous mating call of the males. From India 145 species are known so far. Notable contributions are made by Distant (1906, 1916); Oltenbach (1928); Fraser (1942); Bolivar (1964); Chatterjee (1936) and Mitra &Muraleedharan (1975, 1976). Superfamily Coccoidea : Treated separately in this publication by R. K. Varshney.

Superfamily Fulgoroidea

Family Fulgoridae : Fulgoroids are ususally called lantern flies and pricipally characterised by reticulated anal area of the wing. The group is represented by nearly 430 species in India as against world fauna of 6521 species. The earlier works are by Distant (1908, 1916); Oltenbach (1929); Chatterjee and Bose (1934); and Pramanick &Dutta (1977).

Superfamily Psylloidea

Family Psyllidae : Psyllids or jumping plant lice are an economically important group. They are more common in forests. A few species attack fruit trees also. A little over 100 species are known from Indian subcontinent. The major contributions on this group are by Letitierry (1890); Buckton (1893, 1894); Kieffer (1905); Ayyar (1925); Hussain (1927); Mathur (1934, 1950, 1975) and Mani (1935-1964).

Superfamily Cimicoidea

Family Cimicidae : In India this family includes only four species. All are blood sucking in habit. Usinger (1966) and Bhatt (1974) have worked on Indian species of the genus Cimex.

Family Anthocoridae : Anthocorids are important from the view point of biological control for their predatory habits. The main works on Indian Anthocoridae are those of Distant (1913), Ghauri (1972), Muraleedharan and Ananthakrishnan (1974) and Muraleedharan (1975). In all 45 species are known from India.

Superfamily Aradoidea

Family Aradidae : These are broad flattened insects adapted to live in the narrowest crevices under bark, skin of dead trees. So far about 30 species are known from India. Kormilov (1953-1975) has worked on Oriental fauna.

Superfamily Coreoidea

Family Coreidae : This family consists of some brightly coloured insects having four-jointed antennae inserted on the upper parts of the sides of the head: The coreids are vegetable feeders, a few are pests of rice and millets in the Orient. About 200 species are known so far from India. The notable works are by Distant (1902, 1908, 1918), Chopra (1969), and Basu &Mitra (1977, 1978).

Superfamily Lygaeoidea

Family Lygaeidae : Lygaeidae is the second largest family among Heteroptera. Being phytophagous they mostly occur on moss, rubbish, beneath stones or on low plants. It is an economically important family. The pioneer workers are Distant (1904, 1910, 1918); Chropra and Rastogi (1980); and Mukhopadhyay (1980, 1988). About 260 species are so far known from India.

Superfamily Pentatomoidea

Family Pentatomidae : These are known as shield bugs. Some are pests of vegetable crops. The most distinguishing feature of this family is the presence of large scutellum extending to the base of the membrane. The pioneer workers in this group are Distant (1902), Kirkaldy (1909), Power (1973), Datta and Chakrabarty (1977), Ahmed and Khan (1983), Ahmed and Mzal (1989), and Chopra (1972, 1980). More than 5000 species are known from the World and about 700 species are known from the Indian Subcontinent.

Superfamily Pyrrhocoroidea

Family Pyrrhocoridae : These are known as red cotton bugs and include the well known cotton pest Dysdercus. Nearly SO species are known from India so far. The contributors are Distant (1904), Freunberg (1945), Freeman (1947), Van Doesberg (1958), and Mitra, Sen and Muraleedharan (1977).

Superfamily Reduvoidea

Family Reduviidae : These heteropteran insects known as assassin bugs are predaceous in habit. Some species are pathogenic. The species Triotoma rubro/aciata Deg. is responsible for Kalazar in Madagascar and South Asia. Nealy 450 species of Reduviidae are known from India. The notable contributions are by Distant (1906, 1910), Kirkaldy (1901), Miller (1949-1955). and Muraleedharan (1976).

Superfamily Tingoidea

FamiIy Tingidae : The tingids are commonly known as lace bugs. These are pest of maize, sugar cane, cotton and fruit trees. Chopra (1971), Livingstone (1972), Mohansundaram (1973), Mohansudaram and Subba Rao (1973), Menon (1959), and Nagaraj (1955) have worked on this group. About 70 species are known from India.

Water bugs: Indian water bugs are comprising of 14 families. namely Nepidae, Notonectidae, Pleidae,• Belostomatidae, Naucoiidae, Corixidae, Gelastocoreidae. Ochtaridae, Hydrometridae, Veliidae, Mesoveliidae, Genidae, Saldidae and Herbridae. Former 8 families belong to the Series¬Cryptocerata, of which fust 6 families are truly aquatic in habitat and other 2 families are shore dwelling; while the rest 6 families are semi-aquatic in habit either surface or shore dwelling, and belong to the Series-Gymnocerata. Water bugs are inhabiting any kind of water system, from len tic to lotic fresh water, brackish water to open. ocean water. Mostly they are predaceous in nature, feeding on minute zooplankton to other sizeable organisms whatever they get in their habitat. Some members of water bugs are effectively performing the role of biological control of mosquito larvae and chironomous larvae which are harmful to the mankind. On the other band, some members unfortunately destroy fish-fry, tadpoles etc. and render loss to the fish culture and frog culture. Water bugs are very important to study from the view point of water pollution.

About 200 species of watr bugs are so far recorded from Indian subcontinent. Dobrn's (1860) study on the Heteropteran fauna of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) included a few aquatic bugs, but no other comprehensive studies on Indian water bugs were published until monumental work of Distant (1902, 1906, 1910) in 'Fauna of British India' Vols II, III & V. He reocrded about 150 species of water bugs from Indian SulrContinent. Paiva (1918, 1919) worked on water bugs from Burma and India and recorded approximately 50 species. Hafiz et al. (1938, 1939, 1947) studied water bugs of Santhal Parganas, Bihar.

He enumerated about 60 species of water bugs in• his studies. Pradhan (1950) worked on Indian Gerridae and designated two new species. Brooks (1951) revised the genus Anisops worldwide belonging to the family Notonectidae, covering 96 species including 17 species from Indian fauna. Hungerford and Matsuda (1965) recorded 4 species of Ptilomera from India. Pradha (1976) reported genus Ptilomera for the fU'St time from Andaman Islands. Venkateshan (1980) established a new species of Belostomatidae from South India, while Gupta (1981) designated a new species of Gerridae. Thirumalai (1986) studied the fauna of Silent Valley, Kerala consisting of 9 species of Genidae, of which 5 were new. and two species of Notonectidae. On other families of Heteroptera no appreciable work has been done since the publication of 'fauna' volumes by Distant (1902-1918).

Current Studies

In Zoological Survey of India systematics and distribution of Hemipteran insects of West Bengal and Meghalaya are presently being'studied, while that of Orissa has been published in 1989. The Hemipteran fauna of West Bengal, of families Aphididae, Membracidae, Cercopidae, Fulgoridae, Cicadellidae, Belostomatidae, Hydrometridae, Nepidae, Pleidae, Gerridae, Notonectidae, Mesovelidae, Velidae, Pentatomidae and Coccoidea are under publication. The work on remaining some families is likely to be submitted shortly for inclusion in the 'West Bengal S tate Fauna' sereis to be published by the Zoological Survey of India. The Hemiptera fauna of Namdapha, Arunachal Pradesh is also under publication. The revision" of Indian species of Aphis Linn. (Family: Aphididae) has been published very recently in Mem. zool. Surv. India (1989). Since 1980, four volumes of 'Fauna of India' on Aphididae, have been published and more volumes are in progress and will be published shortly. Some works on Membracidae and Gerridae are being carried out at the Southrn Regional Station ofZ.S.I. A Check list on Coccoidea of South Asia has been submitted for publication.

Outside Z.S.I., works on hemipteran group of insects are being carried out in a few centres, namely Calcutta University; Kalyani University; Tripura University, Agartala; Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi; Forst Research Institue, Debra Dun; Central Potato Research Institute, Simla; Punjab Agricultural Un~versity, Ludhiana; Loyola College, Madras; M.M. (P.G.) College, Modinagar; etc. These studies are aimed at Taxonomy, Biology, Cytotaxonomy and Ecology of various hemipteran insects.

Expertise India


A. K. Ghosh [Aphidoidea], Zoological Survey of India, F.P.S. Building, Indian Museum Complex, 27, lawaharlal Nehru Road, Calcutta 700 016 (West'Bengal). R. K. Varshney [Coccoidea], R. C. Basu [Aphididae, Coreidae, Aquatic Bugs], L. K. Ghosh [Aphididae, Cercopidae, Membracidae, Psyllidae], Animesh Bal [Aquatic bugs], S. P. Chakraborty [Pentatomoidea], G. C. Sen [Largidae, Pyrrhocoridae] Maya Ghosh [Cicadelloidea], B. Biswas [Cercopidae, Membracidae] &S. C. Mitra [Coreidae], all of Zoological Survey of India, M-Block, New Alipur, Calcutta 700 053 (West Bengal). K. R. Rao [Cicadelloidea] and G. Thirumalai [Membracidae, Aquatic bugs], both ofZoological Survey of India, Southern Regional Station, 100 Santhome High Road, Madras 600 028 (ramil Nadu).


N. P. Chopra, Department of Entomology, Haryana Agricultural University, Hissar (Haryana) [Coreidae, Lygaeidae, Pentatomoidea, Tingidae]. K. S. Ananthasuhramanian, Loyola College, Madras 600 034 (Tamil Nadu) [Membracidae]. N. Muraleedharan, UPASI -Tea Estate, Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) [Anthocoridae, Reduviidae]. S. P. Kurl, M. M. (p. G.) College, Modinagar (Uttar Pradesh) [Cytotaxonomy of Aphididae]. S. Chakrabor~i, Department of Zoology, Kalyani University, Kalyani, Nadia (West Bengal) [Aphididae] . D. Raychaudhuri, Department of Zoology, University of Calcutta, 35, Ballygunge Circular Road, Calcutta 700 019, (West Bengal) [Aphididae]. B. K. Agarwala, Department of Life Science, Tripura University, Agartala, (Tripura) [Aphididae]. M. R. Ghosh, Department of Entomology, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswabidyalaya, Kalyani, Nadia, (West Bengal) [Aphididae]. Ananda Mukhopadhyay, Department of Zoology, North Bengal University, Siliguri, Darjiling, (West Bengal) [Lygaeidae]. C. Viraktamath, Department of Entomology, University of Agricultural Science, Hebbal, Bangalore -560 024 (Kamataka) [Cicadelloidea]. C. Kandasamy, Montari Industries Ltd., 78 Nehru Place, New Delhi 110019 [psyllidae]. H. R. Bhat, National Institute of Virology, 20A, Dr. Ambedkar Road, Pune 411 001, (Maharashtra) [Cimicidae]. P. Venkateshan, Loyola College, Madras 600 034, (Tamilnadu) [Aquatic bugs]. Y. C. Gupta, B.S.A. College, Mathura, (Uttar Pradesh) [Genidae].


M. R. Wilson, [Lygaeidae, Miridae, Ricaniidae], M. S. K. Ghauri, [pentatomoidea], Jennifer M. Cox, [Coccoidea] and V. F. Eastop [Adelgidae, Aphididae], all of Depu. of Entomology, British Museum (Nat. Hist), London, (U.K.). K. L. Taylor, Division of Entomology, C.S.I.R.O., Black Mountain, Canberra, ACT 2601, (Australia) [psyllidae]. I. Lansbury, Hope Department of Entomology, University Museum, Oxford, (U.K.) [Aquatic bugs]. C. H. Fernando, Depanment of Biology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, (Canada) [Aquatic ~ugs]. M. Miyazaki, Entomological Institute, Hokkaido University, ~~pporo, (Japan) [Aphididae].

Selected References

Ananthasubramanian, K. S. &Ananthakrishnan, T. N. 1975. Taxonomic, Biological and Ecological studies on some Indian Membracids (Insecta: Homoptera). Rec. zool. Surv. India. 68(1-4) : 161-272, 305-340.

Basu, R. C. 1982. A review of the Taxonomical works done on the Hemipterous group of insects during the period 1970-1980 in India. Proc. zool. Soc.• Calcutta, 34 : 55-77. David, B. V. & Subramanian, T. R. 1976. Studies on some Indian Aleyrodidae. Rec. zool. Surv. India, 70 : 133-233.

Distant, W. L. 1902-1918. The Fauna of British India, Rhynchota. 1 : 1-438 (1902);•2 : 1-503 (1904); 3 : 1-503 (1906); 4 : 1-501 (1908); 5 : 1-362 (1910); 6 : 1-248 (1916); 7 : 1-21<) (1918). Taylor & Francis, London. Dutta, B. &Ghosh, L. K. 1981. Studies on OrientaLCerocopoidea (Hemiptera: Homoptera). EOS. SO : 41-67. Dutta. B, Ghosh, L. K. & Dhar, M. 1985. Studies on Indian Pentatomoidea. Rec. zool. Surv. India. Occ. Paper No. 80 : 1-43. Ghosh, A. K. 1980-1988. The Fauna of India: Aphidoidea. Pl I : 1-122 (1980); Pt. II : 1-157 (1982); Pt. III : 1-429 (1984); Pt. IV : 1-429 (1988). Zoological Survey of India, Calcutta.

Hutchinson, G. E. 1933. A revision of the Distantian and Paivian types of Notonectidae and Corixidae in the Indian Museum. Rec. Indian Mus.• 3S : 393-408. Mathur, R. N. 1975. PSYllidae of the Indian Subcontinent: 1-429. I.e.A.R., New Delhi. Mukhopadhyay, A. 1988. Taxonomic study of Lygaeidae (Heteroptera : Insecta) from West Bengal. Rec. zool. Surv. India. Occ. Paper No. 107 : 1-72.

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