Reduviidae REU projects (PEET)


Four NSF-funded REU (Research Experience for Undergraduate students) projects have so far been associated with the Reduviid PEET.

REU summer 2013

Undergraduate students Sarah Frankenberg and Amy Michael are expanding systematic research on the reduviid subfamily Phymatinae, the ambush bugs, from a previous focus on California to include all of North America. Their goals are to work towards delimiting species concepts of Nearctic Phymata based on 1) the examination of museum specimens, and 2) preliminary molecular analyses. Sarah and Amy are currently examining ~1,000 specimens from the W. F. Barr Entomology Museum at the University of Idaho and the San Diego Natural History Museum, and additional collections will be examined throughout the summer and fall. Local field work will allow us to obtain additional DNA-quality specimens, hopefully including the rarely collected species Phymata vicina and Phymata salicis.

In order to begin a more comprehensive analysis of Phymata across North America, we need your help!



If you encounter Phymata specimens (see images above) during your collecting trips anywhere in North America, we would greatly appreciate if you could: 1) catch and preserve them in 95% ethanol; 2) record the locality information and, if possible, host plant (or image the host plant); and 3) send the specimens to:

Christiane Weirauch
Department of Entomology
University of California, Riverside
900 University Avenue
Riverside, 92521, CA

Host plant images can be sent to Rochelle Hoey-Chamberlain (Lab Assistant in the Weirauch lab): rochelle.hoeychamberlain(a) 

 Your help will be greatly appreciated!


REU summer 2012

Impressions from the ongoing project that focuses on California Reduviidae and included a collecting trip to Los Angeles National Forest, where we found the rarely collected ambush bug Phymata arctostaphylae (top row), and one museum trip to the San Diego Natural History Museum (bottom row).

REU summer 2011
Steven Crum (senior undergraduate, UCR, graduated spring 2012). Steven participated in the PEET project as REU student. He was responsible for organizing, curating and databasing Malagasy Reduviidae on loan from the Californian Academy of Sciences. He also imaged representatives of each species, analyzed distribution patterns across the island, and evaluated species endemism and abundance. He presented these data as a poster during Student Seminar Day 2011 and won the prize for best undergraduate poster. Cole Watson (graduated in spring 2011 from UCR). Cole assisted in generating images of habitus and morphological details for a well-illustrated, badly needed identification key to the subfamilies of Reduviidae that we plan to submit to the “Canadian Journal for Arthropod Identification”.

REU summer 2010
Claudia Alvarez (senior undergraduate, UCR; graduated winter 2010). Claudia videotaped and analyzed predatory and reproductive behaviors of Zelus renardii and Zelus tetracanthus. She presented her data as a poster during Student Seminar Day 2010 and her results have been incorporated into a manuscript that is now published [Weirauch, C., Alvarez, C., and Zhang, G. Zelus renardii and Z. tetracanthus (Hemiptera: Reduviidae): biological attributes and the potential for dispersal in two assassin bugs]. Brittany Smith (senior undergraduate, UCR; graduated summer 2010). Brittany focused on a literature review of kissing bugs in Southern California and on detecting by PCR Trypanosoma cruzi infections in suboptimally preserved Triatominae. She presented her results as a poster at Student Seminar Day 2010, where she won (together with P. Wong) the prize for the best undergraduate poster. The results of her research were published in the journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. Percy Wong (senior undergraduate, UCR; graduated summer 2010). Percy developed ecological niche models for California kissing bugs. His results were presented in part as a poster at Student Seminar Day 2010.