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Introduction

The subfamily Corydalinae (dobsonflies) of Corydalidae includes some of the largest and most impressive of extant insects, such as males of Central American Platyneuromus with bizarre looking postocular flanges (cf. Glorioso and Flint 1984), and those of Asian Acanthacorydalis and American Corydalus both bearing disproportionately long mandibles (cf. Glorioso 1981).

Representatives of the three different genera of the Corydalus lineage of dobson flies. a. Male Platyneuromus soror (Hagen) with postocular flanges, Costa Rica. b. Male Corydalus luteus Hagen with long mandibles, Nuevo León, Mexico. c. Female Chloronia mexicana Stitz, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Photographs copyright © 1997, Atilano Contreras-Ramos

At least in Corydalus, there is evidence that males would fight over females using their long mandibles, and so the latter might be associated with sexual selection and perhaps could be used as a means of defense. However, the postocular flanges in Platyneuromus, analogously more developed in males of large size (as the elongate mandibles in Corydalus) are not known to have a particular function.

The aquatic larvae (hellgrammites) are a conspicuous component of the benthic macroinvertebrate fauna of streams and rivers. Due to their large size, rather ferocious nature, as well as to their endurance as bait, they are well known to fishermen and aquatic biologists.

Dobson fly larva, Chloronia mexicana Stitz, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Photograph copyright © 1997, Atilano Contreras-Ramos

Glorioso's (op. cit.) perception of a world dobsonfly fauna of less than 50 species has definitely fallen short. New and Theischinger (1993) estimate that there are about 100 nominal species of Corydalinae. On the same token, there are 47 currently recognized species only in the New World (Glorioso and Flint 1984; Contreras-Ramos 1995, 1998, 1999). Nine genera are currently recognized for the subfamily. Those of the New World are in good taxonomic condition, however considerable revisionary work remains to be done in the Old World genera (e.g., Protohermes).

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