Smicronyx san, Haran, Julien M., 2021

Haran, Julien M., 2021, The Smicronychini of southern Africa (Coleoptera, Curculionidae): Review of the tribe and description of 12 new species, European Journal of Taxonomy 735, pp. 34-73 : 60-62

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Smicronyx san

sp. nov.

Smicronyx san sp. nov.

Figs 2 View Fig A–C, 4D, 5L, 6E; Table 1 View Table 1

Differential diagnosis

In the Republic of South Africa, S. san sp. nov. is closest to S. drakensbergensis sp. nov.; it can be distinguished from this species by the coating on the elytra (white and brown scales, grey in S. drakensbergensis sp. nov.), the ratio of its prothorax (isodiametric, slightly longer than wide in S. drakensbergensis sp. nov.), and its shorter penis body ( Fig. 5 View Fig L–M).


This species is dedicated to the San people, hunter gatherers whose first traces date back 44 000 years in southern Africa. They left remarkable marks of their presence along the coast in Western Cape Province, where S. san sp. nov. forms dense populations due to the local abundance of its host plants.

Material examined

Holotype REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA • 1 ♂; “Rep. of South Africa; Stellenbosch [Western Cape Province]; 33°56.566S, 18°52.402E; 156 m, 20.ii.2018; J. Haran leg.” / “on Chironia baccifera ; JHAR00761_0101” / “HOLOTYPE; Smicronyx san ; Haran 2021”; SAMC. GoogleMaps

Paratypes REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA • 1 ♂, 1 ♀; same collection data as for holotype; BMNH GoogleMaps 2 ♂♂, 2 ♀♀; same collection data as for holotype; CBGP GoogleMaps 1 ♂, 1 ♀; same collection data as for holotype; MNHN GoogleMaps 1 ♂, 1 ♀; same collection data as for holotype; RMCA GoogleMaps 1 ♀; same collection data as for holotype; SAMC GoogleMaps 1 ♂, 1 ♀; same collection data as for holotype; SANC GoogleMaps 6 ♂♂, 7 ♀♀; Western Cape Province, Cape Peninsula ; 34°20.300 S, 18°27.489 E; alt. 16 m; 24 Feb. 2018; J. Haran leg.; on Orphium frutescens ; JHAR00769 ; CBGP GoogleMaps 4 specs; Stellenbosch, Bottelaryberg ; 29 Jun. 2019; J. Haran leg.; on Chironia baccifera ; JHAR02343 ; ethanol coll. CBGP 14 specs; Helderberg ; 34°0.88′ S, 18°53.533′ E; alt. 443 m; 19 Aug. 2018; J. Haran leg.; on Sebaea sp.; JHAR01367 ; ethanol coll. CBGP GoogleMaps 1 ♂, 1 ♀; Kapstyl ; 24 Aug. 2018; J. Haran leg.; on Chironia baccifera ; JHAR01438 ; CMNC 20 specs; same collection data as for preceding; JHAR01438 ; ethanol coll. CBGP 1 ♂, 2 ♀♀; Western Cape Province, R27 near Langebaan; 33°06.04 S, 18°07.71 E; 14 Nov. 2007; E. Colonnelli leg.; MCZ GoogleMaps 7 specs; Gansbaai, Grootbos private nature reserve ; 11 Aug. 2018; J. Haran leg., on Chironia sp.; JHAR01317 ; ethanol coll. CBGP 16 ♂♂, 13 ♀♀; Worcester ; Jan. 1929; R.E. Turner leg.; BMNH 1 ♂, 1 ♀; Table Mountain ; 1906; W. Bevins leg.; BMNH 1 ♀; Cape Town , Milnerton ; 14–28 Dec. 1925; R.E. Turner leg.; BMNH 1 ♀; Swellendam ; 17 Dec. 1931 – 18 Jan. 1932; R.E. Turner leg.; BMNH 4 specs; Somerset West, Helderberg Nature Reserve ; 34.062212 S, 18.873992 E; 14 Oct. 2019; J. Haran leg.; sweeping Sebaea aurea ; JHAR01367_02 ; ethanol coll. CBGP GoogleMaps .


BODY LENGTH. 1.8–2.0 mm.

COLOUR. Body integument entirely black, shiny; vestiture of elytra consisting of recumbent, elliptical, twice as long as wide, overlapping scales, pale brown with transverse shades of white scales, densely covering but not concealing the integument.

HEAD. Rostrum as long as head + prothorax in lateral view, moderately and regularly downcurved ( Fig. 4D View Fig ), in dorsal view punctate, covered with suberect brown scales in basal ⅓–½, glabrous in apical half; transverse furrow at base of rostrum shiny, bare of scales; head capsule glabrous; eyes flat, close to each other on ventral side, separated by a distance equal to width of 2–3 ommatidia; scape of antennae straight, slightly and regularly widening apicad, clavate in apical ⅓, segment 1 of funicle elongate, as long as 2 + 3, 4–7 wider than long.

PROTHORAX. Isodiametric (ratio w/l: 1), widest near middle of length, narrowed at apex, sides rounded; integument greatly punctuate and granulous, shiny; scales pale brown, overlapping, usually concentrated on sides, with a spot of white scales near humeri; disc usually bare of scales or with narrow scales not concealing integument, forming a broad longitudinal strip where integument remains visible; median line sometimes bearing a narrow band of brown scales, generally visible at base near scutellum.

ELYTRA. Sides rounded, widest near middle of length (ratio w/l: 0.76); humeri raised; striae narrow, interstriae flat, wide, integument slightly reticulate, apex of interstria 5 lacking declivital callosity; scutellum small, not visible through coating.

ABDOMEN. Underside mostly covered with overlapping pale brown scales, more condensed on metasternum and metanepisterna.

LEGS. Covered with pale brown semi-erect elongate scales; femora clavate, bearing a tiny ventral tooth usually concealed by scales; tibiae straight on external side, slightly bisinuate ventrally at basal third; claws equal in length.

GENITALIA. Body of penis very short (ratio w/l: 1), 0.8× as long as apodemes, sides sub-parallel or slightly expanding from base to apex in basal ¾, converging in apical ⅓, acuminate at apex, curvature in lateral view regular ( Fig. 5L View Fig ).

Sexual dimorphism

Females are distinguished from males by their rostrum, which is slightly longer, and less densely covered with scales in basal ½.

Life history

Smicronyx san sp. nov. develops on various Gentianaceae : Chironia baccifera Linnaeus, 1753 , Orphium frustescens (L) E. Mey., 1838, Sebaea spp. including S. aurea (L. f.) Roem. & Schult. ( Fig. 6 View Fig E–H). Adults were collected on the ground under its host plant or by beating the plant in February, June, August, October–December.


Republic of South Africa (Western Cape Province).


Smicronyx san sp. nov. belongs morphologically to the S. reichi (Gyllenhal, 1835) species group ( Dieckmann 1990), which is associated with Gentianaceae , and shows a much shorter body of the penis than other Smicronyx species ( Pericart 1957). S. san sp. nov. is a polymorphic species, specimens obtained from Orphium frustescens ( Fig. 2B View Fig ) are larger and have a less dense coating than specimens developing on Chironia ( Fig. 2A View Fig ). Specimens obtained from Sebaea have a more elongate body ( Fig. 2C View Fig ) than those on Chironia . However, the sequences of the gene COI revealed no genetic divergence between populations from each host plant.


United Kingdom, London, The Natural History Museum [formerly British Museum (Natural History)]


France, Paris, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle


Belgium, Tervuren, Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale


South Africa, Pretoria, South African National Collection of Insects


Canada, Ottawa, Canadian Museum of Nature


USA, Massachusetts, Cambridge, Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology


Iziko Museums of Cape Town


Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle


Agricultural Research Council-Plant Protection Research Institute


Museum of Comparative Zoology