Nature Today | ABC pathway dysfunction is new to science

In addition to the well-known and scary bed bugs, there are more than 600 other bed bugs found in the Netherlands. To the average person, they look a bit like beetles, but they have snouts instead of jaws. Most species use this sucking snout to consume plant juices or to suck out other unfortunate insects. No country has been as well researched regarding the occurrence of errors as the Netherlands. At least, if you don’t include the Caribbean Netherlands.

Field work

The insects of the Dutch Caribbean have not been properly mapped, and almost nothing is known about groups such as locusts, bees and moths, but also insects. With support from the Naturalis Center for Biodiversity, a group of amateur experts is working to change that. This is done through fieldwork, but also through the study of ancient collections. While studying the ancient collection’s materials, researchers Bingping Chen, Nico Neiser and Max Kaspers found toadstool specimens from Bonaire and Curaçao. Another study showed that it was an undescribed species, which has now been named Nerthra Babatsky Received – tribute to the Czech entomologist Miroslav Babacic. Since this species is known only from the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao), this species was given the Dutch name ABC path bug.

Mangrove

There are people who do not consider frogs and bugs to be their favorite animals, and for them the word “toad” will not arouse many warm feelings. However, they are beautiful and somewhat strange-looking animals. Frog bugs belong to a group of insects related to water bugs that do not live in water but prefer moist conditions along standing or flowing water. Hundreds of described species of toadstools are found in tropical regions of Australia, Asia, and South America. They have a flattened body with forelimbs that are used to grasp and hold prey. The newly described species was found in mangroves on Bonaire and Curaçao. The animals were covered in a layer of fine sand, suggesting they were buried.

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Mangroves in Bonaire

The discovery of a new species shows that the study of the Naturalis group continues to yield new discoveries. Therefore, the study of materials, often collected many years ago, is of great importance. The newly described species is now known worldwide only from Bonaire and Curaçao. The last sighting was 57 years ago, and as far as we know, there is no one alive who has seen the ABC track bug in the wild. Although the mangrove forests on these islands have declined, it is not clear that the ABC insect has truly disappeared. It was likely overlooked simply because of its cryptic and nocturnal lifestyle in a biotope that was inaccessible.

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Text: Vincent Calviolin, Natural Biodiversity Centre
Photos: Yvonne Van Dam; Vincent as a violin

Megan Vasquez

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