Saturday, March 11, 2017

[Entomology • 2017] Helmablatta louisrothi • A New Genus and Species of Cavernicolous Cockroach (Blattaria, Nocticolidae) from Vietnam

Helmablatta louisrothi
Vidlička, Vršanský, Kúdelová, Kúdela, Deharveng & Hain, 2017 

Holotype (Vn 06 253), male, ventral view of head and pronotum.


The new, small cavernicolous species Helmablatta louisrothi gen. et sp. n. (Nocticolidae) from the Tan-Phu cave (Vietnam) is one of the most morphologically interesting cockroaches. The extremely modified upstanding tergal gland composite from three tergites and may serve for gripping the female head during copulation. This presumption is supported by the presence of a central big hook on tergite 8. Furthermore, both wing pairs are uncommonly adapted to help releasing sex pheromones without raising the wings. Histone 3 DNA-based maximum likelihood analyses indicate a recent origin and close phylogenetic relationship between Nocticola spp. and Helmablatta sp.—consistent with the Quaternary age of the source lava tubes.

Keywords: Blattaria, cave, lava tube, tergal gland

 FIGURE 2. Male of helmet cockroach Helmablatta louisrothi sp. n. (Holotype Vn 06 253):
 head and pronotum, side view.

Helmablatta Vidlička, Vršanský et Deharveng, gen. n. 
Etymology. Helmablatta after the shape of tergal gland, suggesting helmet (Slavic “helma”) and cockroach genus name Blatta.

Type species: Helmablatta louisrothi Vidlička, Vršanský et Deharveng, sp. n. designated below by monotypy. 

Diagnosis. Differing from all living and fossil cockroach species in the presence of body modifications, mainly feature of tergal gland, tergal unpaired growth and excisions on both wing pairs. 
Cavernicolous. Spelaeoblatta-like. Male: Small, pale, eyes present but reduced. Tegmina abbreviated, lacking venation (only Sc allusively visible), apical half sinuous. Hind wings partly reduced, lacking venation, deep incision in apex. Abdomen short, abdominal tergal gland very well developed, composite of the three segments, T3-T5. Tergite 8 with large central anteriorly incurved hook. Legs long, coxae and femora robust, pulvilli and arolia absent, tarsal claws simple, symmetrical. Anteroventral margin of front femur with alternate large and small spines irregularly disposed and a large distal spine.

Helmablatta louisrothi Vidlička, Vršanský et Deharveng, sp. n.

Etymology. New cockroach species is named in honour of Louis M. Roth (*1918–†2013), one of the greatest “cockroachologist” of the 20th century who published the latest revision of Nocticolidae.


Helmet cockroach Helmablatta louisrothi sp. n., CT 3D representation. 

Ľubomír Vidlička, Peter Vršanský, Tatiana Kúdelová, Matúš Kúdela, Louis Deharveng and Miroslav  Hain. 2017. New Genus and Species of Cavernicolous Cockroach (Blattaria, Nocticolidae) from Vietnam. Zootaxa. 4232(3); 361–375. DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4232.3.5
Translucent helmeted cockroach looks like an alien with a halo

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