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The Heteroptera, or true bugs, is a highly diverse insect taxon with approximately 42,300 described species worldwide, separated into seven infraorders and 75–89 families (Henry 2009, Schuh and Slater 1995). Their body size ranges from less than 1 mm to 10 cm. True bugs feed on many different resources (e.g., haemolymph of insects, blood of endotherms, fungi cytoplasma, phloem-, xylem- or parenchym-sap of mosses, ferns, monocotyledons, mostly dicotyledons, algae, the endosperm of seeds, plant pollen). Heteropterans live in virtually all terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems from Antarctic birds’ nests to rainforest canopies, from the open surface of the ocean (almost uniquely for insects), to torrential and stagnant rivers, from ephemeral rain pools and phytotelmata to large lakes, and in aphotic caves and man-made buildings (Schuh and Slater 1995).

Among the characteristic features are the mouthparts, which evolved as sucking stylets for the uptake of liquid food and the injection of secretions from the salivary gland; restricted diets are commonly observed. Most species are phytophagous, some feed exclusively on particular plant species, genera or families, whereas others are polyphagous species feeding on dozens to hundreds of different host plants. Some species are of considerable economic concern in agriculture or (more rarely) forestry, many species are predatory and some are used as biocontrol agents against agricultural pests (Schaefer and Panizzi 2000).


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