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Acta Amazonica

Print version ISSN 0044-5967On-line version ISSN 1809-4392

Acta Amaz. vol.37 no.4 Manaus  2007 

Aquatic and semiaquatic Heteroptera (Insecta) from Pitinga, Amazonas, Brazil


Heterópteros (Insecta) aquáticos e semi-aquáticos de Pitinga, Amazonas, Brasil



Domingos L. V. PereiraI; Alan Lane de MeloII

ICoordenação de Pesquisas em Entomologia, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia - INPA, Avenida André Araújo, 2936, Manaus, AM. CEP 69083-000. e-mail:
IILaboratório de Taxonomia e Biologia de Invertebrados / Departamento de Parasitologia / Instituto de Ciências Biológicas da UFMG, CP 486. CEP 30123-970, Belo Horizonte, MG. e-mail:




A list of aquatic and semiaquatic Heteroptera from a collecting trip to Pitinga, a village in a mining area in the County of Presidente Figueiredo in the Central Amazon is presented. Identified were fifty five species of Heteroptera, distributed in 13 families. Among the insects collected, some are new records for this Amazonian region and in addition 3 apparently undescribed species of Microvelia and one of Paravelia remain for further study.

Keywords: Aquatic Heteroptera, Gerromorpha, Nepomorpha, New state records


Uma lista de heterópteros aquáticos e semi-aquáticos coletados durante uma viagem a Pitinga, uma área de mineração no município de Presidente Figueiredo, na Amazônia Central, é apresentada. Foram coletadas 55 espécies de Heteroptera, distribuídas em 13 famílias. Entre os insetos coletados, alguns são registros novos para essa região amazônica.

Palavras-chave: Heterópteros aquáticos, Gerromorpha, Nepomorpha, Distribuição, Amazônia.




The Heteroptera comprise a widely distributed group of insects of vast economic and medical interest. A large majority of its species is terrestrial but some of them are well adapted to aquatic or semiaquatic life and are efficient predators. These forms are found in a great variety of aquatic environments from stagnant pools to running water and from leaf axils of bromeliads to open ocean.

Data on distributional patterns and habitat preferences of aquatic and semiaquatic Heteroptera in Brazil, within and among several habitats, as well as other basic biological and ecological information, are found dispersed in the literature. However, they are mainly for regional faunas of southern Brazil (Nieser, 1994; Nieser & Pelli, 1994; Nieser & Melo, 1997, 1999a, b; Nieser et al., 1997, 1999; Nieser & Polhemus, 1999; Nieser & Chen, 2002; Nieser & Lopez-Ruf, 2001; Vianna & Melo, 2002, 2003; Goulart et al., 2002; Melo & Nieser, 2004).

Problems with water quality and degradation of aquatic habitats are associated with human population expansion and to the type of land use which contribute to disrupt the ecological equilibrium of a region. Notwithstanding, the basic literature on invertebrate-aquatic communities focuses mainly on pathogens and some invertebrate vectors of parasitic diseases, and attempts to establish and select conservation priorities for riverine habitats within these areas are few.

In 2000, one of the authors (DLVP), aiming to obtain information regarding aquatic and semiaquatic Heteroptera in a mining area in central Amazonia, made some collecting trips to Pitinga, a village in the municipality of Presidente Figueiredo. Since no previous record of water bugs from this area is known to us, the results of that collecting trip are presented here.




The Presidente Figueiredo municipality, founded in 1981, is located ca 107 km north of Manaus, covering an area of about 24,781 km2, and is made up of several biological reserve and protected indigenous areas such as the Waimiri-Atroari.

Pitinga is a small mining town situated in the Waimiri-Atroari reserve, about 310 km from Manaus and 70Km south of the Equator (00°47'28.7"S; 60°04'12.2"W). This region is covered by tropical rain forest with an annual rainfall of more than 2000 mm. The typical geomorphologycal sets are composed of Palaeozoic sedimentary soils from pre-Cambrian age related to the Prosperança formation of siliciclastic rocks with dense drainage and shows subvulcanic intrusive and effusive granitic rocks (Radam, 1978; Nogueira & Sarges, 2001; Muller & Carvalho, 2005).

Samples were taken from several places in the village,  which were considered to represent possible habitats for Heteroptera and to account for the ecological diversity of the aquatic environments. The sites included  some ponds, puddles with rock and strips of vegetation on sand, bottom with small boulders, sand and or gravel, and  the Pitinguinha and Perdigoto, rivers which are slow to moderately fast flowing, over 1m deep in some places, with rapids and riffles at quiet parts.

Macroinvertebrate samples were taken by sweeping the water column, edges and bottom of water bodies with entomological hand nets. The collected material was placed in plastic trays and the insects were sorted from detritus and transferred to vials containing 80% ethanol. In the laboratory, each sample was examined under a dissecting microscope and species identification was performed basically according to Nieser & Melo (1997). The sampled material was deposited in the entomological collection in the Department of Parasitology of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (DPIC).



Fifty five species of Heteroptera, distributed in 13 families, were collected. The dominance of Gerromorpha species (31) was found in all sites. Veliidae and Gerridae were the commonest families of Gerromorpha, making up 49.1% (27 species) and Microvelia spp. more than 10% (seven) of all recorded species from the Pitinga vicinities. Twenty nine species were found in Pitinguinha, 26 in Perdigoto creeks, some of which were common to both. In the other sites sampled, which represent more lentic habitats than the above mentioned creeks, the 32 species of Heteroptera found were grouped as other sites.

Some species of these families were described only from the Amazonian region and others are widespread and commonly found among marginal vegetation in standing waters of ponds or small puddles and in slow to moderately fast flowing streams from other regions of southern Brazil. Naucoridae was the major family of Nepomorpha (24) collected with 7 species (29.1%) recorded in the study area.

The great number of species found in a few types of ambient showed low frequency, but Paravelia sp. and Rhagovelia spp. were abundant. The checklist of species in the habitats sampled is shown in Table 1.




Among the insects collected, some are new records for the Amazonian region, including Belostoma plebejum, Rhagovelia tenuipes (known from the states of Pará and Minas Gerais), Ochterus aeneifrons surinamensis, a subspecies described from Suriname by Nieser (1975), and undescribed species of Microvelia. Apparently, this area is rich in Microvelia. One of the species of this genus may have been previously described, but not the others, such as the Paravelia.

The sampling sites, comprising permanent and semi-permanent lotic and lentic habitats in the current study, did not present distinct family compositions. However, the relative homogeneity of species distribution among Nepomorpha and Gerromorpha, suggesting a lower variability on the species composition, should be viewed carefully, because some of them probably could be displaced by others, ecologically more tolerant, from the same genera as consequence of changes in general habitat traits from human impact. As far as we know, no previous study from unmodified aquatic bodies or species list was given, yet we are unable to affirm whether or not the present records represent a poor diversity of heteropteran for this region. In fact standing water, leaf litter and emergent macrophytes that are rare in some sites sampled could influence the distribution of these insects.

A few studies of aquatic insects associated with mining activities deal with high acidified water bodies (Jarvis & Younger, 1997; Winterbourn et al., 2000), or they exclude the Gerromorpha from data analysis (Proctor & Grigg, 2006) and in a stricto sensu are not applicable in the present report. The results obtained suggest that the mining activities did not exclude the heteropteran community from this area, despite evidence that biotic and abiotic factors can influence population distribution and community assembly in different ways. Among them, the water physicochemical properties, structural patterns of the water sources and water permanence, presence of macrophytes in shaping aquatic habitats, physiological tolerance, colonization abilities and food availability. On the other hand, some studies on species composition, correlation between age and size of aquatic habitats in a mining area were verified (Palmer, 1981; Adams & Robbins, 1982, 1990) but, studies on heteropteran community structure in a wide range of habitats could not be directly compared. However, they support some of the patterns suggested by the present study (Nieser, 1975; García-Avilés et al., 1996; González-Martínez & Valladares-Díez, 1996; Larsen & Olson, 1997; Goulart et al., 2002; Vianna & Melo, 2003). Studies on heteropteran fauna from several natural water bodies far from mining sites in southern Brazil have shown a similar distributional pattern in family composition, and the number of species sampled was also similar (Vianna & Melo, 2003; Melo & Nieser, 2004; Pelli et al., 2006; Sousa et al., 2006).

Although many of the species recorded are ecologically important, additional information on distributional patterns and faunistic aspects of the aquatic and semiaquatic Heteroptera in Pitinga is needed for a definitive biogeographycal analysis, as this list is probably not complete.



We thank Dr. Fernando A. Silveira for his helpful comments on the manuscript.



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Recebido em 06/10/2005
Aceito em 10/06/2007

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