SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.49 issue29 author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links


Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia

Print version ISSN 0031-1049On-line version ISSN 1807-0205

Pap. Avulsos Zool. (São Paulo) vol.49 no.29 São Paulo  2009 

Description of the pupal case of Systropus (Systropus) nitidus Wiedemann, 1830 (Diptera, Bombyliidae, Toxophorinae, Systropodini)



Paula Fernanda Motta RodriguesI,II,IV; Carlos José Einicker LamasI,III

IMuseu de Zoologia, Universidade de São Paulo, Caixa Postal 42.494, 04218-970, São Paulo, SP, Brasil. E-mails:;
IIPrograma de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Biológicas (Zoologia) do Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo
IIIConselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) fellow
IVCoordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) fellow




The pupal case of Systropus (Systropus) nitidus Wiedemann reared from an unidentified tipical Limacodidae (Lepidoptera) cocoon is described and illustrated for the first time. Only species of Limacodidae are recorded as host of the immature stages of S. (Systropus). The geographical distribution of S. (Systropus) nitidus is restricted to Brazil, from Pará to Santa Catarina states. This is the first pupal case description and illustration of a Neotropical species of the subgenus Systropus.

Keywords: Morphology; Pupal skins; Parasitoids; Moth; Bee flies.


O pupário de Systropus (Systropus) nitidus Wiedemann, originado de uma crisálida não identificada típica de Limacodidae (Lepidoptera), é descrito e ilustrado pela primeira vez. Somente espécies de Limacodidae são registradas como hospedeiros de estágios imaturos de S. (Systropus). A distribuição geográfica de S. (Systropus) nitidus é restrita ao Brasil, do estado do Pará ao de Santa Catarina. Esta é a primeira descrição e ilustração de pupário de uma espécie Neotropical do subgênero Systropus.

Palavras-chave: Morfologia; Pupários; Parasitóides; Mariposas.




Bombyliidae is a large family of Diptera which includes species whose larvae are predators or parasites (Metcalf & Flint, 1984). There are many reports in literature of specimens from the subgenus Systropus Wiedemann (1820) being parasitoids of Limacodidae larvae (Lepidoptera) (Adams & Yanega, 1991), showing to have considerable specificity between these bee flies and the larvae of Limacodidae, as the moths of this family are the only known records of parasitism by the subgenus Systropus (Yeates & Greathead, 1997).

The subgenus Systropus Wiedemann (Systropus, Systropodini, Toxophorinae) includes over 140 species distributed worldwide, the majority occurring in Oriental region (Evenhuis & Greathead, 1999). The species are remarkable, among all Bombyliidae, by the thin and long shape of its body, typically very wasp-like in appearance (Adams & Yanega, 1991).

There is some evidence for evolutionary shifts in the Systropodini regarding the position of the host in the environmental, means of host location (above ground) and host range (Yeates & Greathead, 1997). Evidence suggests that the plesiomorphic behaviour in the subfamily Toxophorinae is for host to be located in the ground or substrate layer (Yeates & Great-head, 1997). Systropus, on the other hand, oviposits large black eggs only onto the integument of the limacodid larvae (Genty, 1972) that feed on foliage above the substrate (Yeates & Greathead, 1997) and apparently develop as internal parasites of the moth larvae, emerging from the host cocoons (Greathead, 1987).

Carrera & D'Andretta (1950) revised and re-described the Brazilian species of Systropus including S. (S.) nitidus Wiedemann, 1830. No reference to the immature stages or host records was made by the authors.

Very little is known about the immature stages of the subgenus Systropus. From the actually 149 included species (Evenhuis & Greathead, 1999), descriptions of pupal skins are available for only three of them: the Afrotropical Systropus (Systropus) barnardi Hesse, 1938 and S. (S.) crudelis Westwood, 1876 and the Nearctic S. (S.) macer Loew, 1863 (Westwood, 1876; Hesse, 1938; Brooks, 1952).

The present study describes and illustrates for the first time the pupal case of a Neotropical species of the subgenus Systropus: S. (S.) nitidus. The species is restricted to Brazil (Amapá, Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina and São Paulo) (Evenhuis & Greathead, 1999) and this is the first record of a Brazilian Systropodini parasitizing a Limacodidae moth larvae.



This paper is based on a single pupal skin from Ipiranga (São Paulo, SP, Brazil), which is glued in a paper triangle, pinned separated from the adult specimen. Both, adult and pupal skin, are deposited at the Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (MZUSP).

The analysis and illustrations were made using stereomicroscope Zeiss Stemi SV 6 equipped with a camera lucida.



Systropus (Systropus) nitidus Wiedemann (Figs. 1 A-E)



Systropus nitidus Wiedemann 1830:2, 641; Westwood 1842:3-4; Schiner 1868:135; Westwood 1876:577; Osten Sacken 1887:1, 157; Dyar 1900:526; Bezzi 1905:2, 270; Kertész 1909:5, 95; Bezzi 1912:10, 82; Curran 1942:80, 51; Carrera & D'Andretta 1950:295, 296, 303, 304, 306, 318, 319; Adams & Yanega 1991:444; Herrera & Rodríguez 1998:1-2; Evenhuis & Greathead 1999:65; Couri et al. 2000:91, 94, 96; Flores-Pacheco et al. 2006:71.

Pupal case: (Fig. 1A) Length: 21.17 mm. Head width: 3.36 mm. Thorax width: 3.09 mm. Abdominal width: 5.00 mm, tapering to 0.45 mm at width of anal segment (n = 1).

Coloration: predominantly light brown.

Head: Without cephalic spines, tubercles or setae, only a reduced transverse sharp ridge (Fig. 1B) above antennal sheaths, both dark brown; antennal sheaths external, long, almost reaching tip of labrum, united dorsally on the median line forming a low ridge (Fig. 1C); mouth-parts long, apex of labellum almost reaching wing tip (Fig. 1D).

Thorax: Dark brown, with a humpbacked appearance; thorax and appendages without spines, tubercles, or setae; prothoracic spiracles light brown, raised above surface and located posterior to the head (Fig. 1A).

Abdomen: Tergite I predominantly dark brown; tergites II-VII with a central row of chitinous rods, orange with dark brown tip, each ones slightly upturned at the apex, almost all with similar length, only those along midline slightly shorter, except on tergite VIII, with short and long chitinous rods interspersed (Fig. 1E); anterior margin of tergites II-VIII with incomplete dark brown bands at center and not reaching sides of the tergites (Fig. 1E); anal segment milky white to light brown, with one pair of small tubercles at center, each one with a small round reddish spot at apex; anal segment also port a tumid or tubercular process terminally on each side, thus forming a bifid process (Fig. 1E). Pleurae II-VII with conspicuous bristle-like processes at center and small light brown spiracles placed on anterior margin of pleura. Pleura VIII with dark brown spiracles rounded by a circular milky white to light brown area (Fig. 1A).

Host: Lepidoptera (Limacodidae).

Examined material: BRAZIL: São Paulo, Ipiranga, II.1915, 01 puparium, deposited at Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo (MZUSP), São Paulo, Brazil.

Geographical records: Brazil: Amapá, Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina and São Paulo.

Comments: There is a doubtful record of S. (Systropus) nitidus parasitizing larvae of Acharia fusca (Stoll) in San Alberto Colombia (Genty, 1972). As the author did not mentioned where the voucher specimens are deposited or who has determinate the bee flies, this record in Colombia is not considered here as valid.



Despite of the lack of information about the host associated with the studied material of Systropus (Systropus) nitidus, there is a tipical Limacodidae pupal case pinned together, from where the adult bee fly reared and its pupal case was kept, confirming the moths of this family as the only known host of the subgenus Systropus. As stated by Yeates & Greathead (1997), this specific relationship between the Limacodid moths and the Systropus bee flies may be answered by the fact that the location of the host is carried out by the adult females, under the substrate, with much more efficient capability to find the right host than a planidium first instar larvae do in the ground or substrate layer.

From the three actually known pupal cases of the subgenus Systropus (S. (S.) barnardi Hesse, 1938; S. (S.) macer Loew, 1863; and S. (S.) crudelis Westwood, 1876), S. (S.) nitidus is similar to those of S. (S.) barnardi and S. (S.) macer by a reduced and not prominently projecting cephalic transverse ridge, for the scattered but strongly developed chitinous rods, and also for the absence of a distinct process on sides of tergite I. On the other hand, the pupal case of S. (S.) nitidus is similar to the one of S. (S.) crudelis by presenting bristle-like process, on each side of the abdominal pleurae II-VII, more conspicuous and longer than in any other known species.



We are grateful to Dr. Marcelo Duarte (MZUSP) for the information about the Limacodidae pupal cases. To CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior) for the fellowship to PFMR and to CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) for the grant to CJEL (Proc. No. 481024/2008-5).



Adams, J.K. & Yanega, D. 1991. The Lepidopteran host of a neotropical Bombyiid Fly (Lepidoptera: Limacodidae, Diptera: Bombyliidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 64(4):443-444.         [ Links ]

Bezzi, M. 1905. Il genere Systropus Wied. nella fauna palearctica. Redia, 2:262-79.         [ Links ]

Bezzi, M. 1912. Report on a collection of Bombyliidae (Diptera) from central Africa, with description of new species. Transactions of the Entomological Society of London, 1911:605-56.         [ Links ]

Brooks, A.R. 1952. Identification of Bombyliid parasites and hyperparasites of Phalaenidae of the prairie provinces of Canada, with descriptions of six other Bombyliida pupae (Diptera). The Canadian Entomologist, 84(12):357-373.         [ Links ]

Carrera, M. & D'Andretta, M.A.V. 1950. Sobre as espécies brasileiras de Systropus Wiedemann, 1830 (Diptera, Bombyliidae). Papéis Avulsos do Departamento de Zoologia, IX(20):295-319.         [ Links ]

Couri, M.S.; Lamas, C.J.E.; Aires, C.C.C.; Mello-Patiu, C.A.; Maia, V.C.; Pamplona, D.M. & Magno, P. 2000. Diptera da Serra do Navio (Amapá, Brasil): Asilidae, Bombyliidae, Calliphoridae, Micropezidae, Muscidae, Sarcophagidae, Stratiomyiidae, Syrphidae, Tabanidae e Tachinidae. Revista Brasileira de Zoociências, 2(1):91-101.         [ Links ]

Curran, C.H. 1942. American Diptera. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 80:51-84.         [ Links ]

Dyar, H.G. 1900. Life history of a south American slug-caterpillar Sibine fusca Stoll. Entomological News and Proceedings of the Entomological Section, 11(7):517-526.         [ Links ]

Evenhuis, N.L. & Greathead, D.J. 1999. World Catalog of Bee Flies (Diptera: Bombyliidae). Backhuys Publishers, Leiden.         [ Links ]

Flores-Pacheco, C.; Castro-Ramírez, A.E.; Léon-Cortés, J.L.; Ramírez-Salinas, C. 2006. Biología de Acharia extensa (Schaus, 1896) (Lepidoptera: Limacodidae) en cultivo de café em La Montaña de Guerrero, México. Dugesiana, 13(2):67-72.         [ Links ]

Genty, P. 1972. Morfología y biología de Sibine fusca Stoll, Lepidoptero defoliador de la palma de aceite en Colombia. Oléagineux, 27(2):65-71.         [ Links ]

Greathead, D.J. 1987. Bombyliidae. A summary of the recorded bombyliid parasitoids of south-east Asian Limacododidae. In: Cock, M.; Godfray, H.C.J.; Holloway, J.D. (Eds.), Slug and nettle caterpillars: the biology, taxonomy and control of the Limacodidae of economic importance on palms in south-east Asia. CAB International, Wallingford.         [ Links ]

Herrera, A.G. & Rodríguez, G.S. 1998. Bombyliidae y Tachinidae (Diptera) parasitoides de Lepidoptera in Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical, 46(4):1147-1148.         [ Links ]

Hesse, A.J. 1938. A revision of the Bombyliidae (Diptera) of Southern Africa. Annals of the South African Museum, 34:1-1053.         [ Links ]

Kertész, K. 1909. Catalogus dipterorum hucusque descriptorum. Bombyliidae, Therevidae, Omphralidae. [Publisher not given], Budapest. Volumen V. Metcalf, R.G. & Flint, W.P. 1984. Insectos destructivos e insectos útiles. CECSA, México.         [ Links ]

Osten Sacken, C.R. 1887. Diptera [part]. In: Godman, F.D. & Salvin, O. (Eds.), Biologia Centrali-Americana, p. 129-60. Zoologia. Insecta. Diptera. Taylor Francis, London. Vol. 1.         [ Links ]

Schiner, J.R. 1868. Diptera. In: Reise der österreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858, 1859, unter den Befehlen des Commodore B. von Wüllerstorf-Urbair.         [ Links ] Zoologischer Theil, 2, 1(B):1-388.         [ Links ]

Yeates, D.K. & Greathead, D.J. 1997. The evolutionary pattern of host use in the Bombyliidae (Diptera): a disperse family of parasitoid flies. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 60:149-185.         [ Links ]

Westwood, J.O. 1842. Generis Dipterorum monographia Systropi. Guerin's Magazin de Zoologie, (2)29: pl. 90, 1-4.         [ Links ]

Westwood, J.O. 1876. Notae Dipterologicae. Monograph of the genus Systropus, with notes on the economy of a new species of that genus , nº 4. Transactions of the Entomological Society of London, 1876:571-79.         [ Links ]

Wiedemann, C.R.W. 1830. Aussereuropäische zweiflügelige Insekten. Als Fortsetzung des Meigenschen Werkes. Zweiter Theil. Schulz, Hamm.         [ Links ]



Recebido em: 06.03.2009
Aceito em: 06.05.2009
Impresso em: 30.09.2009

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License