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A New Species of Insect Discovered in Madeira

A new species of insect was discovered in Madeira by Énio Freitas and Dora Aguin-Pombo, members of the University of Madeira who recently published their study in the European Journal of Taxonomy. The new species, named Cixius wollastoni Freitas & Aguin-Pombo 2021 (Also known as a plant hopper), is in recognition of Thomas H. Wollaston, a pioneer in the study of Madeira’s entomological fauna.

In a UMa press statement they said, “to date, the published studies on the cixids of the Madeira archipelago were fragmentary and, with respect to some species, the descriptions were still incomplete and / or were based on a small number of specimens. Data on ecology and distribution were also scarce and based on fieldwork dating back 40 years. Therefore, this new study brings our findings up to date, providing an extensive knowledge about their taxonomy and habitat distribution, which in due course will allow us to preserve and protect the archipelago’s rich biodiversity.”

In this sense, the authors of the study, entitled “Taxonomy of the Cixiidae (Hemiptera, Fulgoromorpha) from the Madeira archipelago,” present a complete account of the taxonomy of Madeira cixids, based on specimens from museums and material collected during fieldwork studies on Madeira Island and the Desertas Islands (Ilhéu Chão and Deserta Grande).

The study, which also records for the first time, the occurrence of Pentastiridius leporinus (Linnaeus, 1761) in Madeira, provides a detailed and illustrated description of all the species, including the newly discovered one, as well as an identification key for this family of insects. With this discovery, Cixius wollastoni Freitas & Aguin-Pombo, 2021, Madeira has seven species of cixids, six of which are endemic, thus joining Tenerife, with the largest number of planthopper species endemic to the Macaronesia.

Since some of these species are very rare or live in very restricted areas, Énio Freitas and Dora Aguin-Pombo intend to present a set of measures to protect them.

Samantha Gannon

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