SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.47 número4Efecto de la inmersión en agua caliente sobre los huevos y larvas de Anastrepha grandis (Macquart, 1846) (Diptera: Tephritidae) “in vitro" y sobre calabaza (Cucurbita moschata Duchesne, 1786)Presencia de la especie oceánica Apolinus lividigaster (Mulsant, 1853) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) en Rapa Nui, Chile índice de autoresíndice de assuntospesquisa de artigos
Home Pagelista alfabética de periódicos  

Serviços Personalizados




Links relacionados

  • Em processo de indexaçãoCitado por Google
  • Não possue artigos similaresSimilares em SciELO
  • Em processo de indexaçãoSimilares em Google


Revista chilena de entomología

versão impressa ISSN 0034-740Xversão On-line ISSN 0718-8994

Rev. chil. entomol. vol.47 no.4 Santiago dez. 2021 

Scientific Note

Wings or hemelytra? brief considerations on terminology in studies with Triatominae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Reduviidae)

¿Alas o hemiélitros? breves consideraciones sobre terminología en estudios con Triatominae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Reduviidae)

1Institute of Biology, Campinas State University (Unicamp), Block O, Bertrand Russel Avenue, Campinas 13083-865, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

2Laboratory of Entomology in Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, Faculty of Public Health, University of Sao Paulo, Av. Arnaldo 01246-904, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

3Laboratório de Diptera, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Av. Brasil, 4365, 21040-360, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.

4Sao Paulo State University (Unesp), School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Araraquara-Jaú Highway, Km 1, Campos Ville, Araraquara 14800-903, Sao Paulo, Brazil.


The epidemiological significance and biological character of Triatominae are frequently explored, but errors in morphological terminology are common. We discuss the importance of using morphological terminology correctly. The incorrect use of the term "wing" to describe the hemelytron in the study of Triatominae is pointed out. The correct and standard use of the term hemelytron (pl. hemelytra) to describe the forewings is suggested.

Key words: Forewings; hemelytra; morphology; taxonomy; Triatominae


La importancia epidemiológica y el carácter biológico de Triatominae se exploran con frecuencia, pero los errores en la terminología morfológica son comunes. Se discute la importancia de utilizar correctamente la terminología morfológica. Se señala el uso incorrecto del término "ala" para describir el hemiélitro en el estudio de Triatominae. Se sugiere el uso correcto y estándar del término hemiélitro (pl. hemiélitros) para describir las alas anteriores.

Palabras clave: Alas anteriores; hemiélitros; morfología; taxonomía; Triatominae

The interest of this article is to draw the attention of the scientific community to the correct use of forewing terminology in studies dealing with members of the suborder Heteroptera Latreille, 1810, mainly those belonging to the subfamily Triatominae Jeannel, 1919. Triatominae currently includes 157 species distributed among 18 genera, and found in the Americas, Asia, and Oceania (Belintani et al. 2021; Zhao et al. 2021; Dale et al. 2021). In Latin American countries several species of this group are vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas, 1909), the causative agent of Chagas disease (Lent and Wygodzinsky 1979).

Because of the epidemiological and biological importance of the subfamily Triatominae, many studies have been published and various methodological approaches have been explored. However, despite extensive literature, there are frequent disagreements in morphological terminology. The nomenclatural misuse in relation to some male genitalia structures was previously pointed by Gil-Santana and Galvao (2013). These inconsistencies are often shared and can become an obstacle to developing the conceptual understanding expected from the study. Therefore, the frequent use of the term "wing", which incorrectly replaces the correct terminology, is discussed here.

In general, the typical morphology of the triatomines is characteristic and well defined (Lent and Wygodzinsky 1979). Among several features of the subfamily, the forewings are one of the most important typical features (Galvao 2021). According to Capinera (2008), hemelytron (pl. hemelytra) is the term for the forewings of some insects in which the basal part is thickened and the distal part membranous, as originally described for Heteroptera. The anterior chorion is typically more sclerotized than the rest of the hemelytron, with visible veins, while the membranous part is more delicate, slightly wrinkled and with more visible veins. Some species have visible spots in the central region (Lent and Wygodzinsky 1979). As in the current concept, only in one suborder of Hemiptera Linnaeus, 1758, the anterior part is leathery and the posterior part membranous (Gullan and Craston 2005; Schuh and Slater 1995). This characteristic is responsible for the name of the order Hemiptera; Hemiptera, from the Greek hemi = half; pteron = wing (Galvao 2021).

Heteroptera Latreille, 1810 is a suborder of Hemiptera, its more ancestral species have forewings with uniform texture, such as the hindwing, while in most other Heteroptera they are present or in the form of hemelytra, i.e., with differences between the membranous and coriaceous parts (Schuh and Slater 1995).

Most triatomines have a fully developed hemelytra and hindwings (Galvao 2021). However, in some species both are reduced (brachypterous or micropterous) or absent (apterous). For example, the genus Mepraia Mazza, Gajardo & Jorg, 1940, which have polymorphic wings. Males of M. gajardoi Frías, Henry & González, 1998 are brachypterous, M. parapatrica Frías, 2010 can be brachypterous or macropterous, and M. spinolai (Porter, 1934) can be micropterous, brachypterous or macropterous, all these species are endemic to Chile (Frías et al. 2018). In the genus Triatoma Laporte, 1832, we have another case of wing reduction in T. sherlocki Papa, Jurberg, Carcavallo, Cerqueira & Barata, 2002 in which both sexes are brachypterous.

In Triatomine, incorrect use is common in studies with geometric morphology. It is common to use the term "wings" when evaluating the shape and size variables of hemelytra (Jaramillo et al. 2002; Garcia et al. 2005; Soto-Vivas et al. 2011; Gurgel-Goncalves et al. 2011; Nattero et al. 2017; Schachter-Broide et al. 2004). Geometric morphometrics are commonly used in studies of several species of Insecta Linnaeus, 1758, e.g., Diptera Linnaeus, 1758 and Hemiptera. Several studies, using geometric morphometrics in triatomines, have also been conducted in other insect groups, mainly to analyze ontogenetic, evolutionary, or taxonomic aspects, focusing on the heads or hemelytra (Dujardin et al. 1997; Páez-Colasante and Aldana 2008; Oliveira et al. 2017; Kamimura et al. 2020).

Recently, Belintani et al. (2020) published an extensive phylogenetic study of species of the genus Triatoma using the correct terminology for the forewings e.g., hemelytron/ hemelytra, and it is expected that this study will continue. Following the suggestions of the reviewers, the term hemelytron was used instead of "wing". However, two later studies still used inadequate terminology and referred to the hemelytra of triatomines as "wings" (Kamimura et al. 2021; Zhao et al. 2021).

From the 18th century, the standardization of scientific terminology enabled natural scientists to minimize relatively common problems in scientific communication. For example, these standardizations can minimize errors caused by different languages or ad hoc naming conventions for species. We believe that the correct and up-to-date use of 670 terminologies should be sought. Therefore, any attempt at standardization has positive impact on dissemination and scientific progress (L'Homme 2015).

Standardization of terminology has proved useful for communication among peers. The vocabularies used to communicate expertise are important tools for describing, understanding, and disseminating knowledge. We hope that this article establishes the correct usage of the term hemelytron (pl. hemelytra) and stimulates discussion of other terms that are misapplied.


We would like to thank all the staff Parasitology Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty Pharmaceutical Sciences/Unesp/Araraquara.

Funding. T.B and J.A.R were supported by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior-Brasil (CAPES)-Finance Code 001 and J.A.R: CNPq, PQ-2, process307 398/2018-8.

Declaration of conflict of interests. The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this article.

Literature Cited

Belintani, T., Oliveira, J., Pinotti, H., Silva, L.A., Alevi, K.C.C., Galvao, C. and Rosa, J.A. (2020) Phylogenetic and phenotypic relationships of the Triatoma sordida subcomplex (Hemiptera: Reduviidae: Triatominae). Acta Tropica, 212: 105679. http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.actatropica.2020.105679 [ Links ]

Belintani, T., Oliveira, J., Pinotti, H., Alevi, K.C.C., Nascimento, J.D., Sasso-Cerri, E., Galvao, C. and Rosa, J.A. (2021) Characterization of female external genitalia and eggs of four South American species of the Triatoma Laporte, 1832 genus (Hemiptera: Reduviidae: Triatominae). Insects, 12(6): 537. [ Links ]

Capinera, J.L. (2008) Encyclopedia of Entomology. 2nd Ed., Springer Science & Business Media, Heidelberg, 2061 p. [ Links ]

Dujardin, J.P., Bermudez, H., Cassini, C.J., Schofiled, J. and Tibayrenc, M. (1997) Metric differences between silvatic and domestic Triatoma infestans (Heteroptera: Reduviidae) in Bolivia. Journal of Medical Entomology, 34(5): 544-551. [ Links ]

Frias, D., Oliveira, J., Pinotti, H. and Rosa, J.A. (2018) Morphological description of Mepraia spp. females (Hemiptera: Reduviidae, Triatominae). Acta Tropica, 190: 389-394. [ Links ]

Galvao, C. (2021) Taxonomy. In: Guarneri A., Lorenzo M. (eds) Triatominae - The Biology of Chagas Disease Vectors. Entomology in Focus, vol 5. Springer, Cham. [ Links ]

Garcia, M.H.H.M., Souza, L., Souza, R.D.C.M., Paula, A.S., Borges, E.C., Barbosa, S.E., Schoffield, C. J. and Diotaiuti, L. (2005) Occurrence and variability of Panstrongylus lutzi in the State of Ceara, Brazil. Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical, 38(5): 410-415. [ Links ]

Gil-Santana, H.R. and Galvao, C. (2013) Description of the male genitalia of Belminus rugulosus Stal and Belminus corredori Galvao & Angulo, and comments on the holotype of Parabelminus yurupucu Lent & Wygodzinsky (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Reduviidae: Triatominae: Bolboderini). Zootaxa, 3746(4): 587-596. zootaxa.3746.4.6 [ Links ]

Gullan, PJ. and Craston, P.S. (2005) The insects: An outline of entomology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. [ Links ]

Gurgel-Goncalves, R., Ferreira, J.B.C, Rosa, A.F., Bar, M.E. and Galvao, C. (2010) Geometric morphometries and ecological niche modelling for delimitation of near sibling triatomine species. Medical and Veterinary Entomology, 25(1): 84-93. [ Links ]

Jaramillo, O.N., Castillo, D. and Wolf, M.E. (2002) Geometric morphometric differences between Panstrongylus geniculatus from field and laboratory. Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, 97(5): 667-673. [ Links ]

Kamimura, E.H., Viana, M.C., Lilioso, M., Fontes, F.H.M., Pires-Silva, D., Valenca- Barbosa, C., Carbajal de la Fuente, A.L., Folly-Ramos, E., Solferin, V.N., Thyssen, PJ., Costa, J. and Almeida, C.E. (2020) Drivers of molecular and morphometric variation in Triatoma brasiliensis (Hemiptera: Reduviidae): the resolution of geometric morphometrics for populational structuring in micro-geographic scale. Parasites and Vectors, 13(455): 1-15. [ Links ]

L'Homme, M.C. (2015) Terminologies and taxonomies. In: Taylor, J. (Ed.) The Oxford Handbook of the Word. Oxford University Press. [ Links ]

Lent, H. and Wygodzinsky, P. (1979) Revision of the Triatominae (Hemiptera- Reduviidae) and their significance as vectors of Chagas' disease. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 163: 123-520. [ Links ]

Nattero, J., Piccinali, R.V., Macedo Lopes, C., Hernández, M.L., Abrahan, L., Lobbia, P.A., Rodríguez, C.S. and Carbajal, F.A.L. (2017) Morphometric variability among the species of the sordida subcomplex (Hemiptera: Reduviidae: Triatominae): Evidence for differentiation across the distribution range of Triatoma sordida. Parasites and Vectors, 10(412): 1-14. [ Links ]

Oliveira, J., Marcet, P.L., Takiya, D.M., Mendonga, V.J., Belintani, T., Bargues, M.D., Mateo, L., Chagas, V., Folly, E.R., Codeira-Estrela, P., Gurgel-Gongalves, R., Costa, J., Rosa, J.A. and Almeida, C.E. (2017) Combined phylogenetic and morphometric information to delimitand unify the Triatoma brasiliensis species complex and the Brasiliensis subcomplex. Acta Tropica, 170: 140-148. [ Links ]

Páez-Colasante, X. and Aldana, E. (2008) Morfometría geométrica del borde borial y del collar de huevos de cinco especies del género Rhodnius Stal (Heteroptera, Reduviidae, Triatominae). EntomoBrasilis, 1(3): 57-61. [ Links ]

Soto-Vivas, A., Liria, J. and De Luna, E. (2011) Morfometría geométrica y filogenia en Rhodniini (Hemiptera, Reduviidae) de Venezuela. Acta Zoológica Mexicana (n.s.), 27(1): 87-102. [ Links ]

Schachter-Broide, J., Gurtler, R.E., Kitron, U. and Dujardin, J.P. (2009) Temporal variations of wing size and shape of Triatoma infestans (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) populations from Northwestern Argentina using geometric morphometry. Journal of Medical Entomology, 46(5): 994-1000. [ Links ]

Schuh, R.T. and Slater, J.A. (1995) True Bugs of the World (Hemiptera: Heteroptera): Classification and Natural History. 2ed. Cornell University Press. [ Links ]

Zhao, Y., Galvao, C. and Cai, W. (2021) Rhodnius micki, a new species of Triatominae (Hemiptera, Reduviidae) from Bolivia. Zookeys, 1012: 71-93. [ Links ]

Received: September 20, 2021; Accepted: October 13, 2021

Creative Commons License This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License