Zelus versicolor ( Herrich-Schäffer, 1848 )

Gil-Santana, Hélcio R., 2008, New records, and nomenclatural and biological notes on Reduviidae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera) from Bolivia and Brazil, Zootaxa 1785, pp. 43-53: 48-50

publication ID


persistent identifier


treatment provided by


scientific name

Zelus versicolor ( Herrich-Schäffer, 1848 )


Zelus versicolor ( Herrich-Schäffer, 1848) 

Zelus nigrispinus ( Herrich-Schäffer, 1848)  , new synonymy.

Herrich-Schäffer in his “Die wanzenartigen Insecten” (1848) described Euagoras versicolor  (pages 46–47), based on a single male. Subsequently he described Euagoras nigrispinus  (page 47), based on two females. All the specimens were collected in Brazil and both species were figured in colored plates. Stål (1872) included these species in the genus Zelus Fabricius, 1803  , writing that they were found in Rio de Janeiro. Walker (1873) cited Euagoras versicolor  from Colombia. Other references to the geographical distribution of both species mentioned only Brazil ( Lethierry & Severin 1896; Wygodzinsky 1949; Maldonado 1990). Hart (1972) in his doctoral dissertation considered Z. nigrispinus  a junior synonym of Z. versicolor  , without making clear the reasons for this synonymy.

The original types described by Herrich-Schäffer (1848), once deposited in Berlin Museum, were destroyed during the First and Second World Wars ( Hart 1972; Rider 1993). However, as Hart (1972) observed, the original drawings from Herrich-Schäffer (1848) are accurate and are useful for identification purposes, considering the lack of the original type-material of the species studied.

Recent observations of living specimens of Zelus  spp., identified as Z. nigrispinus ( Herrich-Schäffer, 1848)  (females) and Z. versicolor ( Herrich-Schäffer, 1848)  (males), based on their coloration, were made in Nova Friburgo (22 º 16 ’ S; 42 º 34 ’ W, 1090 m. a. s. l.), Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. They included small colonies of individuals, some spontaneous copulation ( Figs. 15–16View FIGURES 15 – 21), and a subsequent first generation ( Fig. 17View FIGURES 15 – 21). These observations confirm that Zelus nigrispinus ( Herrich-Schäffer, 1848)  is really the female of Zelus versicolor ( Herrich-Schäffer, 1848)  . This last species must be considered the senior synonym, since its description was presented first in the same paper ( Herrich-Schäffer, 1848: pages 46–47).

The synonymy of these two taxa is formally presented for the first time here. A complete redescription of the species, including immature forms and biological data, will be the subject of a future paper.

Z. versicolor  shows a marked sexual dimorphism ( Figs. 15–16, 18 – 21View FIGURES 15 – 21) and the females show considerable color variation ( Figs. 19–21View FIGURES 15 – 21), as do some other species of Zelus  (e.g., Z. tetracanthus Stål, 1862  , Z. exsanguis Stål, 1862  , Z. janus Stål, 1862  , Hart 1986).

On the other hand, according to Hart (1972), the geographic distribution of this species includes Guiana, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Argentina. In this last case, because the material he studied seems to correspond to Zelus personatus Berg, 1879  , it must not be considered until there have been further studies on the taxonomic significance of this last taxon.

The examined material of Z. versicolor  from Brazil ranged from Amazonian region (Pará state) to Paraná State, in the south of Brazil, showing a large distribution. Many of the specimens are from relatively high areas (above 1000m a. s. l.).

New record. Bolivia, Amazonian Region.

Material examined: BOLIVIA, 1 female, Región Amazonica, Trinidad, [without data] Dirings [? leg.][ MZUSPAbout MZUSP]. BRAZIL, 1 female, Pará, D. Eliseu, 05-I- 2006, C. Mielke leg.; I female, Minas Gerais, C. do Rio Claro, VIII- 1961, J. C. M. Carvalho leg.; Rio de Janeiro, 2 females, Angra dos Reis, Jussaral, X- 934, X- 936, Lopes, L. Trav. e t Lopes [leg.], Z. nigrispinus  (H.-Sch.), Wygodzinsky, det.; 0 1 female, Dario Mendes [leg.], [without date], Z. nigrispinus  (H.-Sch.), Wygodzinsky, det.; 0 2 females, Distrito Federal [actually, Rio de Janeiro city], Corcovado, 25 -XI- 1952, Zajciw [leg.], Z. nigrispinus  (H.-Sch.), Wygodzinsky, 1959 det.; 1 female, X- 1957, Seabra & Alvarenga [leg,], Z. nigrispinus  (H.-Sch.), Wygodzinsky, 1959 det.; 0 1 female, Itatiaya, Fazenda Penedo, III-[19] 42, P. Wygodzinsky [leg.], Z. nigrispinus  (H.-Sch.), Wygodzinsky, det; Itatiaya, 0 2 females, Maromba, 29 -XII- 1952, C. Leite, Seabra & Zikán [leg.]; Nova Friburgo (22 º 16 ’ S; 42 º 34 ’ W), 0 5 females, 02-IV- 1999, 18-XII- 2002, 30-XI- 2003, 30-XII- 2005, 30-III- 2006, 0 6 females, 10 -III- 2006; 0 7 males, 10 -III- 2006; Terezopólis, 0 1 female, 23 -V- [19] 52, Seabra [leg.]; São Paulo, 0 1 female, without date, Z. nigrispinus  (H.-Sch.), Wygodzinsky, det.; Barueri, 0 2 females (in the same pin), 2 -X- [19] 54, 0 1 female, 21 -I- [19] 55, K. Lenko [leg.]; Paraná, Rolandia, 0 1 female, III- 1952, A Maller [leg.] [ MNRJAbout MNRJ].


Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo


Museu Nacional/Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro














Zelus versicolor ( Herrich-Schäffer, 1848 )

Gil-Santana, Hélcio R. 2008


Zelus nigrispinus ( Herrich-Schäffer, 1848 )

Herrich-Schaffer 1848



Fabricius 1803