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Small Milkweed Bug (Lygaeus kalmii kalmii), photo by Werner Eigelsreiter


R. A. Cannings and G. G. E. Scudder

Copyright © 2005 - All rights reserved

Extracted from the forthcoming publication The Insect Families of British Columbia

Description (draft only)

These are Exopterygote insects with piercing and sucking mouthparts, with the mandibles and maxillae very long and needle-like, piercing stylets, ensheathed in a tubular labium, which is jointed or unjointed. Maxillary and labial palps are absent, and the head capsule is usually without distinct sulci and sutures. The antennae are very variable both in size and shape.

The thorax has a large, distinct pronotum in flying forms, and the mosothoracic segment is more powerful in flight than the metathorax. The forewings are usually larger than the hindwings, and wings are generally coupled together in flight. Forewings may be membranous or coriaceous. The legs are variable in structure, but have 3 or fewer tarsal segments.

The abdomen usually has the anterior one or two segments reduced or absent. Cerci are absent.

Until recently the Order was subdivided into two Suborders, the Heteroptera with hemelytra, and the Homoptera, with membranous forewings. However, following recent reanalysis of relationships (Schaefer 1996) and molecular studies and phylogenetic analyses (Sorensen et al. 1995), four suborders are now accepted.

The new classification is as follows:

New classification   Old arrangement
Order Hemiptera  
  Suborder Sternorrhyncha Homoptera
  Suborder Clypeorrhyncha
  Suborder Archaeorrhyncha
  Suborder Prosorrhyncha Heteroptera

Worldwide there are some 55,000 species.

The known distribution of species of Hemiptera in Canada and references to literature and recent keys are contained in Maw et al. (2000.)


Maw, H.E.L., Foottit, R.G., Hamilton, K.G.A. and Scudder, G.G.E. 2000. Checklist of the Hemiptera of Canada and Alaska. NRC Research Press, Ottawa. 220 pp.

Schaefer, C.W. (Ed.) 1996. Studies on Hemipteran Phylogeny. Proceedings Thomas Say Publication in Entomology. Entomological Society of America, Lanham, Maryland. 244 pp.

Sorensen, J.T., Campbell, B.C., Gill, R.J., and Steffen-Campbell, J.D. 1995. Non-monophly of Archenorrhyncha ("Homoptera"), based upon 18s rDNA phylogeny: eco-evolutionary and dadistic implications within pre-Heteropterodea Hemiptera (s.l.) and a proposal for new, monophyletic suborders. Pan-Pacific Entomologists 71:31-59


Please cite these pages as:

Author, date, page title. In:   Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia []. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Date Accessed]

© Copyright 2021 E-Fauna BC.