Thursday, 2 March 2017

The world of Protosticta revisited

To my dismay I noticed that I had not yet published here on the blog 4 species of Protosticta found in the course of last year. To be more precise, one had been published by Jan van Tol in 2008, P. linnaei. Another had been known for a while, but was considered a dark form of P. satoi. It was published last year, by me, as P. nigra. A third species I found in a small touristic area with wet forest near Bao Loc. This was P. proboscis. And lastly I ran into yet another new species, that occurred side by side with P. satoi in Xuan Son National Park: P. albifrons, also described last year. All this just goes to show that you really need to give these little critters a close look. For let's be honest, they do look alike a lot. It is really in many cases only possible to tell them apart by a close look at their tiny caudal appendages. See below for photos of all species, but if you are interested in their diagnostic features, please read up on them in Phan & Kompier, 2016 and Kompier, 2016.

Female of P. albifrons. Note the large white spot on S9, the thin black metapleural line and the pattern on the prothorax.

The male of P. albifrons. Similar thin black line and prothorax pattern. The true and straightforward feature is of course the shape of the caudal appendages, but that is impossible to see here.

The male of P. linnaei. Note the pattern of the prothorax. Again, the appendages would be the give-away feature, but you need a microscope.

The handsome female P. linnaei. Note the lack of a white spot on S9.

Now, this handsome devil is more easy to identify, thanks to the black thorax. This is P. nigra.

Yes, and this fellow is again rather similar to the previous ones, before P. nigra. It is P. proboscis, its name coined after the drooping central lobe at the apex of the appendages. Anyone that can identify it from a distance is a true connoisseur. 

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