Laemosaccus Schönherr, 1823, Schonherr, 1826

Hespenheide, Henry A., 2019, A Review of the Genus Laemosaccus Schönherr, 1826 (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Mesoptiliinae) from Baja California and America North of Mexico: Diversity and Mimicry, The Coleopterists Bulletin (MIMICRY AND LAEMOSACCUS In an earlier paper (Hespenheide 1996), I presented the hypothesis that species of Laemosaccus of the L. nephele group with red humeral spots on the elytra were Batesian mimics of members of the Chrysomelidae in the subfamily Clytrinae. There is no evidence that Laemosaccus species are distasteful, and what is either L. nephele and / or L. obrieni have been reported as prey items of birds (Beal 1912). In Cave Creek Canyon, Cochise County, Arizona, 21 forms (species and “ subspecies ”) of Clytrinae were hypothesized to be the primary models of 22 species of mimics in the families Anthribidae (one species), Bruchidae (two species), Buprestidae (four species), Chrysomelidae, subfamily Cryptocephalinae (three species), Coccinellidae (six species), Curculionidae, subfamily Baridinae (one species), and Laemosaccus (five species). Of these, the coccinellids and the cryptocephaline chrysomelids are probably distasteful Mullerian co-mimics. Ecologically, the species of Laemosaccus co-occurred with their clytrine models on both desert legumes and canyon oaks, although more clytrine species occurred in the desert and more Laemosaccus species occurred in the canyons. Species of clytrines showing the mimetic pattern are common throughout Mexico (Bellamy 2003, who renamed the Mexican buprestid genus Acherusia Laporte and Gory, 1837 as Mimicoclytrina Bellamy to reflect their resemblance to clytrines), but decline in numbers of species and in the proportion of the clytrine fauna through Central America to Panama (Hespenheide 1996, fig. 2). Laemosaccus seems to follow a similar pattern. Mimicry is more common in large faunas, especially in wet tropical areas (Hespenheide 1986, 1995); because the largest clytrine fauna is in Mexico, the clytrine mimicry complex is also larger there (Hespenheide 1996). This complex has more members than I first enumerated and deserves further study. The evolution of mimicry produces resemblances between unrelated species (Laemosaccus and other putative mimics, with clytrines and perhaps other Chrysomelidae and Coccinellidae as models; see Hespenheide 1976, 1996) and selects against the divergence of related species. In Batesian mimicry - hypothesized to be the form of relationship between Laemosaccus and clytrines - the selection for precision of mimicry is stronger on the mimic (Laemosaccus), so that resemblances among them should be closer, regardless of ancestry. Close morphological resemblances based on ecology rather than ancestry may be termed mimetic homoplasy (Hespenheide 2005) and can make recognition of species difficult (as in Laemosaccus) or complicate phylogenetic analyses. I have speculated (Hespenheide 1996) that the sympatric “ subspecies ” of the clytrine models (Moldenke 1970) may in fact be reproductively isolated sibling species. It will be interesting to see whether or not genomic studies show the closeness of relationships among Laemosaccus species that the morphology suggests) 73 (4), pp. 905-939: 906

publication ID 10.1649/0010-065X-73.4.905

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Laemosaccus Schönherr, 1823


Laemosaccus Schönherr, 1823  

Type Species. Rhynchaenus plagiatus (Fabricius)   ( Schönherr 1823: c.1136).

In the last revision of the genus Laemosaccus   from North America, Champion (1903)   treated two species that occur in the USA and 13 other species that occur in Mexico and Central America   . Wibmer and O’ Brien (1986) list nearly 30 additional species from South America   , and I have seen many other undescribed species from Mexico and Central America   . After study of personal collections and a survey of specimens in collections, American Laemosaccus   north of Mexico appear to represent 12 species, 10 of which are undescribed. These can be classified into two groups that do not appear to be closely related: the L. nephele   group, containing most species, which are typically black with larger or smaller orange or red humeral or posthumeral elytral spots and whose woody hosts are usually oaks or mesquite and other legumes; and the L. texanus   group with two all-black species whose hosts are in perennial Malvaceae   , including Gossypium L. The   latter group appears to be richer in Mexico and Central America   and extends into South America   . Additional groups of Laemosaccus   occur in Mexico and Central and South America   , and the morphological diversity among these may warrant the recognition of additional genera. Although few species have been reared, larvae of most species are probably borers in woody branches of relatively small diameter (e.g., L. nephele   ) or in the stems of perennial herbs (e.g., L. texanus   ).