The tiny (body length usually between 1-3 millimeters), but morphologically stunningly diverse Dipsocoromorpha, the "litter bugs", are the least known infraorder of Heteroptera (Štys, 1970, 1983; Schuh and Slater, 1995; Henry, 2009; Weirauch and Schuh, 2011; Weirauch and Štys, 2014). Litter bugs inhabit cryptic microhabitats including leaf litter, low vegetation, the interstitial zone of streams, and even mangroves (e.g., McAtee and Malloch, 1925; Emsley, 1969) and are surprisingly abundant in arthropod trap samples, where they usually remain part of the uncurated residue. Dipsocoromorpha are a worldwide group and show highest diversity in the tropics. They comprise only about 380 described species in 5 morphologically distinctive families (e.g., Štys, 1970), the Ceratocombidae, Dipsocoridae, Hypsipterygidae, Schizopteridae, and Stemmocryptidae (see sections on individual families). Even in the largest and best documented family, the Schizopteridae, many species remain to be described. The small body size of Dipsocoromorpha requires specialized curation, dissection, and documentation techniques. Together with their occurrence in often cryptic habitats this is likely the main reasons that few experts have focused on the group.
Research on Dipsocoromorpha in the Weirauch Lab comprises taxonomic revisions and monographs, mostly with focus on New World taxa, comparative morphology using various methods (light, confocal, scanning electron microscopy), and phylogenetic studies (morphology, Sanger, and NGS). Additional products can be found here and in the Publications.
Emsley, M.G., 1969. The Schizopteridae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera) with the descriptions of new species from Trinidad. Memoirs of the American Entomological Society 25, 1–154.
Henry, T.J., 2009. Biodiversity of Heteroptera. In: Foottit, R.G, Adler, P. H. Insect Biodiversity: Science and Society, 223–263.
McAtee, W.L., Malloch, J.R., 1925. Revision of bugs of the family Cryptostemmatidae in the collection of the United States National Museum. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 67, pp. 1–42.
Schuh, R.T., Slater, J.A., 1995. True bugs of the world (Hemiptera: Heteroptera): classification and natural history, Comstock Publishing Associates, Cornell University Press, pp. i–xii, 1–336.
Štys, P., 1970. On the morphology and classification of the family Dipsocoridae s. lat., with particular reference to the genus Hypsipteryx Drake (Heteroptera). Acta Entomologica Bohemoslovaca 67, 21–46.
Štys, P., 1983. A new family of Heteroptera with dipsocoromorphan affinities from Papua New Guinea. Acta Entomologica Bohemoslovaca 80, 256–292.
Weirauch, C., Schuh, R.T., 2011. Systematics and evolution of Heteroptera: 25 years of progress. Annual Review of Entomology 56, 487–510.
Weirauch, C. and Stys, P. 2014. Litter bugs exposed – phylogenetic relationships of Dipsocoromorpha (Hemiptera: Heteroptera) based on molecular data. Insect Systematics and Evolution , advance article: [link]