Description & Statistics
This is the largest of the Heteroptera with more than 10,012 species described as of 2011. They occur worldwide, and have been referred to as "leaf bugs," "plant bugs,", "grass bugs," and "capsid bugs." Diagnostic characters include the cuneus in their forewing and, in most species, 2 closed cells at the base of the membrane. The antennae and rostrum have four segments and there are no ocelli. They are mainly soft bodied, small (rarely >11mm) and elongated in shape as well as vibrantly colored. All species are small, terrestrial insects, usually oval-shaped or elongate and measuring less than 14 mm. long. Some are brightly colored, while others dark. Some genera mimic ants at some stage of their life. Many species are pests of agriculture.
Most Miridae are phytophagous, although many species are facultatively predaceous on all stages of various insects, mainly Homoptera and Heteroptera. However, some researchers regarded the family as a whole subsisting principally on other insects. Some species are mainly zoophagous and facultative blood feeders on humans. Myrmecophilous mirids have been known as well as species that frequent insectivorous plants and feed on newly captured prey. A mirid imported from Australia and Fiji to Hawaii was responsible for successful biological control of the sugarcane leafhopper. Other mirids have been introduced from Australia into Hawaii for control of leafhopper pests of corn and taro.
The genus Deraeocoris is consistently associated with aphids, being predaceous principally on those species that have a waxy covering, such as Eriosoma and Phylloxera. D. flavilinea Costa of Europe as a wide range of food, being predaceous on eggs and young nymphs of several species of Pentatomidae and on aphids, syrphid larvae, etc. From 10-15% of eggs of the pentatomid species found on hazel nuts in Italy are destroyed by this mirid (Boselli 1932). It also feeds on plant juices. Other species are known to attack red mites and chermids, etc.
Cyrtorhinus mundulus Bredd. is well known because of its role as a predator. It was introduced into Hawaii from Australia and Fiji in 1920 for biological control of sugarcane leaf hopper (Swezey 1936). It feeds only on eggs and was so effective that it rapidly reduced the infestation to a noneconomic level and much below that attained through an earlier introduction of the parasitic enemies of this pest. It is very closely associated with cane and because of this has not been effective against leaf hopper on corn. Its eggs are laid singly or in small groups in crevices in the cane leaves. Cyrtorhinus fulvus, was imported from the Philippines during 1937-1938, and effectively controlled the taro leaf hopper, Megamelus proserpina Kirk. in Hawaii. Both of these species are obligate egg predators and do not require plant food (Clausen 1940/1962).
Blatchley, W. S. 1926. Heteroptera or True Bugs of Eastern North America, with Special Reference to the fauna of Indiana and Florida. nature Publ. Co., Indianapolis, Ind. 1116 p.
China, W. E. & N. C. E. Miller. 1959. Checklist and keys to the families and subfamilies of the Hemiptera-Heteroptera. Bull. British Mus. Nat. Hist. Ent. 8(1): 1-45.
Knight, H. H. 1941. The plant bugs or Miridae of Illinois. Ill. Nat. Hist. Survey Bull. 22(1): 1-234.
Miller, N. C. E. 1971. The Biology of the Heteroptera. E. W. Classey Ltd., Hampton Middlesex, England. 206 p.