SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, 3 Feb. (EUROPA PRESS) –
The Institute of Natural Products and Agrobiology of the CSIC reports this Friday that the scientific journal ‘Zootaxa’ has just published the discovery of a species of ‘chicharrita’ or leafhopper that is new to science and which is also endemic to the Canary Islands.
Specifically, it is ‘Morsina gomerae’, found on La Gomera during the sampling of a research project led by Brent Emerson, from the CSIC’s Institute of Natural Products and Agrobiology (IPNA-CSIC).
Subsequently, on a visit to the IPNA-CSIC by entomologist Vladimir Gnezdilov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, this renowned specialist in homoptera quickly realized that they were dealing with an unprecedented species, and in collaboration with researchers Heriberto López and Daniel Suárez, both of the IPNA-CSIC, began the morphological study of the specimens to make it known to science.
The result of their work is collected in the article ‘Family Nogodinidae (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea) from the Canary Islands, with the description of a new species of the genus Morsina Melichar, 1902’, where the morphological characteristics of the specimens captured from this new species and several photos of its appearance and the habitat in which it lives are provided.
The ‘chicharritas’, as they are commonly known, are small insects belonging to the group of Homoptera that generally live on plants, shrubs and trees, feeding on the sap by sticking their stiletto-shaped mouthparts into plant tissues, collects a note from the IPNA .
The specimens were found in La Hoya, a place near San Sebastián de La Gomera characterized by the predominance of crop plots abandoned decades ago and in which the potential vegetation has been recolonizing the soil.
This small homopteran was collected on local tabaibas, verodes, balos and daisies plants, although it is most likely distributed throughout various parts of the island in similar habitats.
Some species of homoptera can constitute pests of the plants on which they live, especially in the case of invasive species, which usually have very high population densities due to the absence of competitors and natural enemies.
DOES NOT AFFECT THE HABITAT
However, this is not the case of ‘Morsina gomerae’, an endemic species with an apparently low density of specimens that has evolved on La Gomera for thousands of years without seriously affecting the plant species on which it lives and, probably , perfectly integrated into the trophic chain of its habitat.
Until now it was thought that the genus ‘Morsina’ had a total of fifteen species distributed throughout Iran, the Arabian Peninsula and North and Northeast Africa.
‘Morsina gomerae’ is the first Morsina species described in the Canary Islands and the first species of the ‘Nogodinidae’ family reported for this archipelago, which makes it the 16th worldwide of this genus of leafhoppers.
In the published article, the researchers point out that ‘Morsina gomerae’ is morphologically similar to ‘Morsina ainsefra’ from Algeria, but its wings and genitalia of the males show notable differences in shape and dimensions.
The genus Morsina belongs to the auquenorrincos, a group of homoptera little studied in the Canary Islands.
The works that Heriberto López and Daniel Suárez, from the IPNA-CSIC, together with Pedro Oromí, from the University of La Laguna, are developing in collaboration with international specialists on these homoptera are yielding very promising results, such as the one published now by ‘Zootaxa’, and show the need to deepen the knowledge of these insects in the archipelago.