A new specie of bug has been discovered in Belize!
And it’s so beautiful it deserves to be named after Belize’s Cayo District
After our post of 20 March 2015, The Beautiful Bugs of Belize, it should be no secret how enamoured we are of those little friends of ours who are so important to the Belize’s biosphere and the natural order of things.
So imagine our excitement at hearing that a new species of insect has been discovered in Belize. And to add to the good news, the little critter has been named after our favourite Belizean district – Cayo!
That’s right, recently added to the over 900,000 species already identified as sharing the planet with us is Ambrysus cayo, a cute little (OK, we’re already prejudiced) saucer bug, which Entomology Today lyrically describes as one of those;
“True bugs in the suborder Heteroptera in the family Naucoridae in the subfamily Cryphocricinae – the saucer bugs (also called creeping water bugs) so called because of their round, flat shape.”
Turns out that Ambrysus cayo was discovered in Belize’s Cayo District last year by Drs Robert Sites and William Shepard, with Dr Sites describing it as “about the size of a fingernail, with dark wings and orange marks on the wings.”
They sound like hardy little guys, inhabiting streams and sources of running water, and even waterfalls, where their tiny yet powerful claws let them cling to rocks and pebbles, and their hard beaks allow them to pierce into other insects and small fish and suck out the prey’s fluids through straw-like mouth appendages.
And of you think that’s cool, check this out:
Ambrysus cayo can breathe underwater by tucking an air bubble under its wings. Oxygen in the water diffuses into the bubble, and then into our saucer bug. We’re sure that Jacques Cousteau would have appreciated this vast improvement over our species’ diving tanks when he was diving Belize’s Blue Hole.
From what we can tell, the good Drs Sites and Shepard are quite good at discovering new species, having also identified another new saucer bug while tramping around in the jungles of Peru.
Nice work if you can get it.
But seriously – anyone who has visited Chaa Creek’s Belize Natural History Centre knows how much we respect research and those hardy souls who brave all sorts of conditions to help us better understand the wonders of the natural world that surrounds and supports us.
And here in Belize, with so many acres of unspoiled, unexplored wilderness all around us, who knows what amazing discoveries are still waiting to be uncovered, be they natural wonders or more examples of the ancient Maya civilisation that called Belize home.
So we’d like to tip our hats to Drs Shepard and Sites and offer congratulations on these new discoveries.
And we look forward to hearing more as they continue their important research. As Dr Sites said, “Insects get studied least, as they’re the less charismatic.”
Thanks to Drs Sites and Shepard, they’re at least getting better known…