Higher-level Systematics of Heteroptera


Heteroptera, the true bugs, are part of the largest clade of non-holometabolous insects, the Hemiptera, and include more than 40,000 described species. They comprise agricultural pests, e.g, Pentatomidae (stink bugs) and Miridae (plant bugs), nuisance pests such as Cimicidae (bed bugs), natural enemies used in biological control applications e.g., Anthocoridae (minute pirate bugs) and some Reduviidae (mostly Harpactorinae), and blood-feeders that are of medical importance as vectors of Chagas disease (Triatominae). Heteroptera also contain species that possess fascinating evolutionary traits that provide textbook examples for sexual selection, e.g. water striders (Gerridae), and for sexual conflict involving traumatic insemination (e.g., bed bugs and allies).

Phylogenetic hypotheses are important for understanding heteropteran diversity and essential for testing current classifications and evolutionary hypotheses. Heteropteran phylogenetics has made progress during the past two decades in analyzing relationships among the 7 infraorders of true bugs (see some of the hypotheses above; after Weirauch and Schuh, 2011), but also those within infraorders and certain families. Despite these efforts, hypotheses on relationships among and within infraorders are not stable.


Grazia, J., Schuh, R.T., Wheeler, W.C., 2008. Phylogenetic relationships of family groups in Pentatomoidea based on morphology and DNA sequences (Insecta: Heteroptera). Cladistics 24, 932–976.

Jung, S., Lee, S., 2011. Molecular phylogeny of the plant bugs (Heteroptera: Miridae) and the evolution of feeding habits. Cladistics 28, 50–79.

Li, M., Tian, Y., Zhao, Y., Bu, W., 2012. Higher Level Phylogeny and the First Divergence Time Estimation of Heteroptera (Insecta: Hemiptera) Based on Multiple Genes. PLoS ONE 7, e32152.

Schuh, R.T., Slater, J.A., 1995. True bugs of the world (Hemiptera: Heteroptera): classification and natural history, in: True Bugs of the World. Comstock Publishing Associates, Cornell University Press, pp. i–xii, 1–336.

Schuh, R.T., Weirauch, C., Wheeler, W.C., 2009. Phylogenetic relationships within the Cimicomorpha (Hemiptera: Heteroptera): a total-evidence analysis. Systematic Entomology 34, 15–48.

Weirauch, C., Schuh, R.T., 2011. Systematics and evolution of Heteroptera: 25 years of progress. Annual Review of Entomology 56, 487–510