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July 28, 2021 - Vespertilionidae (Vesper Bats, or Evening Bats) Updated

Vespertilionidae is the most widely-distributed and species of bat families. Genus Myotis Kaup, 1829 alone comprises more than 120 species distributed worldwide; and molecular evidence indicates that its species richness is still underestimated (Novaes et al., 2021).

Most vespertilionid bats are insectivorous. The Fish-eating Bat, Myotis vivesi Menegaux, 1901 however, which is distributed around the Gulf of California and Baja California in Mexico, dines mostly on marine fish and crustaceans (∼90% of its diet) (Wilcox, 2020).

Species of Myotis, especially the Little Brown Bat, Myotis lucifugus (Le Conte, 1831), were once common across the United States and Canada. Between 2006 and 2012, White-nose Syndrome killed 5.5 million bats (Miller-Butterworth et al., 2014); a count in 2018 found that numbers of hibernating winter colonies of Myotis lucifugus, Myotis septentrionalis (Trouessart, 1897), and Perimyotis subflavus (F. Cuvier, 1832) declined >90% within seven years of the detection of White-nose Syndrome (Cheng et al., 2021). The Little Brown Bat is now endangered (Solari, 2018).

This update comprises 1,385 new and edited names, of which 236 are new to ITIS. There are 520 valid and accepted species included, of which 33 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


July 28, 2021 - Death's Head Hawkmoths (genus Acherontia, family Sphingidae) Added

Prompted by Wildlife Inspectors with the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Law Enforcement noting an influx of Death's Head Hawksmoths entering the United States as dried, framed specimen displays (pers. Comm., 14 July 2021), ITIS has added the three species of genus Acherontia Laspeyres, 1809 - full worldwide coverage for this small genus.

The death's head hawkmoths, especially Acherontia atropos (Linnaeus, 1758), have gained notoriety for their spooky skull-shaped markings, and were mentioned in the book: 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker; and featured in the poster for the movie: 'The Silence of the Lambs' (1991) (Kitching, 2003).

This update comprises 8 names new to ITIS. The genus comprises 3 accepted species, none of which are found living in North America; although, Acherontia lachesis (Fabricius, 1798) has been introduced and become established in Hawaii (Leong and D'Rozario, 2011).

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


July 28, 2021 - Global Dytiscidae (Predaceous Diving Beetles) Updated

As their vernacular name implies, predaceous diving beetles of family Dytiscidae are strong swimmers and fierce predators. They swim by kicking both hind legs simultaneously; they carry a bubble of air under their elytra (as seen here in this video: Smithsonian Channel, 2021) in order to breathe while under water. Their larvae, sometimes called 'water tigers' (Missouri Department of Conservation, 2021), prey on fish and tadpoles as well as other insect larvae and aquatic invertebrates.

This update comprises 6,152 new and edited names, of which 842 are new to ITIS. There are 4,638 valid and accepted species included, of which 505 are found in North America. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. It was based on Nilsson and Hájek's 'A World Catalogue of the Family Dytiscidae, or the Diving Beetles (Coleoptera, Adephaga)', periodically updated on www.waterbeetles.eu.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


July 28, 2021 - US Forest Service Signs ITIS Memorandum of Understanding

In support of Integrated Taxonomic Information System partnership, Valdis E. Mezainis, US Forest Service International Program Director, has signed the ITIS Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create and continuously improve taxonomic information within the ITIS database. ITIS serves as a standardized reference of scientific names and their taxonomic hierarchy for use by signatory agencies and others. World wide ITIS technology and knowledge is relied upon to communicate, connect, associate, and organize information about biodiversity.

ITIS now has 11 active MOU partners, working together to support a central cohesive source for collecting and distributing complete, current, and high-quality species checklists with taxonomic hierarchy and robust synonymy.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


July 01, 2021 - Global Coverage of Mosquitoes (Culicidae) Added

"Mosquito-borne diseases kill more than 1 million people and infect nearly 700 million each year - almost one out of every 10 people on Earth." (Kushner for the BBC, 2021). Mosquitoes serve as vectors for a variety of human diseases, including malaria, dengue fever, Zika virus, West Nile virus, and Chikungunya virus (CDC, 2016). For example, Aedes vittatus (Bigot, 1861) may transmit any of a variety of mosquito-borne diseases (except malaria) and was recently found in Cuba, apparently in the process of spreading from the Eastern to the Western hemisphere (Kushner for the BBC, 2021). (Appropriately, Aedes is from the Greek, meaning distasteful, disagreeable, unpleasant, odious, or troublesome.)

This update comprises 5,460 new and edited names, of which 4,767 are new to ITIS. There are 3,585 valid and accepted species included, of which 191 are found in North America. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. This update is based on the Mosquito Taxonomic Inventory website and the book 'Mosquitoes of the World' (Wilkerson et al., 2021).

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


July 01, 2021 - Bird Order Apodiformes Updated

The order's name derives from Greek words meaning 'footless', and the birds of Apodiformes–hummingbirds and swifts–do have small, weak feet in contrast with their long, narrow, strong wings. True swifts are unable to perch on branches or wires, and rest by clinging to a vertical surface or sitting on the nest (Parkes, 2021).

The smallest bird in the world is the Bee Hummingbird, Mellisuga helenae (Lembeye, 1850). This native of Cuba weighs only 1.6–2 g (0.056–0.071 oz) and is only 5–6 cm (2.0–2.4 in) long (Simon, 2015). See this photo by Rockjumper Birding Tours for a human hand-to-bird size comparison.

Nests of South-East Asia's Edible-nest Swiftlet, Aerodramus fuciphagus (Thunberg, 1812), which are made out of hardened salivary secretions and found affixed to cave walls, are the primary ingredient in bird's-nest soup, an expensive delicacy with historic trade dating back to the T'ang Dynasty (618–907 A.D.). (Thorburn, 2015). Most nests are colored white and translucent - see Chinese Bird's Nest Soup Delicacy (TravelFoodAtlas, 2021) - and a kilogram trades for $2,000 - $3,000 (Thorburn, 2015). Rare red nests (Avian Science Institute, 2018) can be five times the price (Thorburn, 2015). The total global trade in edible bird nests is about US$1.6 billion (Thorburn, 2015).

This update comprises 2,456 new and edited names, of which 1,007 are new to ITIS. There are 487 valid and accepted species included, of which 34 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


July 01, 2021 - Lizard Family Lacertidae Added

The majority of lacertid lizard species are found in Europe. The Jeweled Lizard or Ocellated Lizard, Timon lepidus (Daudin, 1802) (previously known as Lacerta lepida), is one of the largest species in the family, and may grow up to 2 feet long. In the past, it was a part of regional cuisine such as in this recipe for lizard in tomato sauce) (madrigaldelavera.net, 2018), and it is sometimes kept as a pet (snaketracks, 2019). The species it is currently under threat in Italy and France per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, 2013).

Three species - Gallotia simonyi Steindachner, 1889, Podarcis lilfordi (Günther, 1874), and Podarcis pityusensis (Boscá, 1883) - are included in the list of species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

This update comprises 866 new and edited names, of which 854 are new to ITIS. There are 357 valid and accepted species included, of which 3 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


July 01, 2021 - Spider Families Gallieniellidae and Sparassidae Updated

Spiders of family Sparassidae are called giant crab spiders and/or huntsman spiders for their large size and predatory behavior. Male individuals of Heteropoda maxima Jäger, 2000 may have a body length of up to 4.6 cm (1.8 inches) and a leg span of almost 30 cm (1 foot) (Jaeger, 2001).

The golden wheel spider, Carparachne aureoflava Lawrence, 1966, can escape from other animals that would harm it by cartwheeling down slopes as seen here on YouTube.

This update comprises 1,711 new and edited names, of which 445 are new to ITIS. There are 1,352 valid and accepted species included, of which 8 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 28, 2021 - Global Coverage for Mite Superfamily Calyptostomatoidea Added

Calyptostomatid mites are a very small family in the large and diverse order Trombidiformes. Some species in Calyptostoma are ectoparasites on crane flies (Tipulidae, Diptera) (Haitlinger and Sundic, 2015).

This update comprises 32 new and edited names, of which 29 are new to ITIS. There are 15 valid and accepted species included, of which 2 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 28, 2021 - Global Coverage for Mite Family Smarididae Added

Smarid mites are 1–3mm (BugGuide), predatory velvet mites (order Trombidiformes), found worldwide in leaf litter and grassland habitats (Ott and Ott, 2018). They have mouthparts inside their body, which they can vomit up (Hennen, 2013).

This update comprises 104 new and edited names, of which 100 are new to ITIS. There are 57 valid and accepted species included, of which 7 are found in North America. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 28, 2021 - Bat Superfamily Emballonuroidea Updated

Emballonuroidea comprises two families: Nycteridae (slit-faced bats) and Emballonuridae (sac-winged, sheath-tailed, and tomb bats). Slit-faced bats are so named for a slit structure that runs vertically down the center of their face and likely functions in echolocation. Most nycterid bats are insectivorous, although the Large Slit-faced Bat, Nycteris grandis Peters, 1865 regularly eats vertebrates, including other bats (Fenton et al., 1981). Research in 2013 suggested tomb bats, like Taphozous perforatus E. Geoffroy, 1818, may be a reservoir for the virus Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) (Kupferschmidt, 2013) .

This update comprises 248 new and edited names, of which 10 are new to ITIS. There are 70 valid and accepted species included.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 28, 2021 - Global Stenopodidea (Coral Shrimps and Glass Sponge Shrimps) Added

Glass Sponge Shrimps of family Spongicolidae have evolved a symbiotic relationship with the Venus' flower basket sponge (Euplectella spp.); the crustaceans keep the sponge clean, while the sponge protects the crustaceans and feeds on their waste. The crustaceans move into the sponge in male–female pairs when they are small; when they grow to adult size they can no longer fit through the mesh of spicules, and live out the rest of their lives inside the sponge, while their offspring leave to colonize new sponges (SciShow).

This update comprises 133 new and edited names, of which 107 are new to ITIS. There are 92 valid and accepted species included.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 28, 2021 - Arachnid order Opilioacarida Updated

Opilioacarid mites are rare, comprise only 13 genera, and are considered primitive because they retain the plesiomorphic characteristics of six eyes and a segmented abdomen (Dunlop and Alberti, 2007). Some photos of Opilioacarid mites can be viewed here.

This update comprises 85 new and edited names, of which 45 are new to ITIS. There are 53 valid and accepted species included, of which 1 is found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 28, 2021 - Fish Family Moronidae Updated

The temperate basses are perciform fish native to North America, Europe, and northern Africa. The popular striped bass, Morone saxatilis (Walbaum, 1792) is a state fish of Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia (Wikipedia).

This update comprises 50 new and edited names, of which 28 are new to ITIS. There are 6 valid and accepted species included, of which 4 are found in North America. The treatment is based on the work of Bill Eschmeyer, primary author of the Catalog of Fishes, maintained as a website hosted by the California Academy of Sciences, and was adapted for this ITIS update by Howard Jelks.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 03, 2021 - Worldwide Update for Select North American Genera in Percidae (Darters)

This partial update within family Percidae covered the darter genera Ammocrypta, Etheostoma, Allohistium and Nothonotus (the last two of which are sometimes recognized under the second). While ITIS usually follows Eschmeyer's Catalog of Fishes, after a lot of work studying the literature (such as MacGuigan and Near, 2019), collaborating expert Howard Jelks has chosen to recognize Allohistium and Nothonotus as separate from Etheostoma.

This update was conducted to support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's work to protect threatened and endangered speciese. Most darters of these genera are endemic to the United States, and while darters in general are common (USFWS, 2018) over 20 species of Etheostoma are listed as threatened or endangered; for example, the Candy Darter Etheostoma osburni (Hubbs and Trautman, 1932) (USFWS, 2021). In 2012, five species of Etheostoma were named after Presidents and a Vice President to honor their contributions to environmental protection and conservation (CBD, 2012).

This update comprises 372 new and edited names, of which 191 are new to ITIS. There are 177 valid and accepted species included, of which 173 are found in North American waters.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 03, 2021 - Alpheidae ('Snapping Shrimps') Global Coverage Added

'Snapping shrimp' or 'pistol shrimp' are so named for their ability to create a loud sound and stunning shockwave by snapping a specialized claw (BBC, 2000). The sound is generated through creation of a cavitation bubble; the water's vaporization and subsequent bubble's collapse briefly generates a temperature of at least 5,000 K (= over 4,000 Celsius) and a flash of light (Lohse et al., 2001). (See video of the process here). Snapping shrimp are more active in warm water and rising ocean temperatures caused by climate change may make the oceans a louder place, affecting other sea life (Sommer, 2020).

This family was last updated in ITIS in about 2004, at which time only species from 'North American' waters were covered. The Alpheidae family saw multiple additions in 2020: about one new species described per month!

This update comprises 1,186 new and edited names, of which 978 are new to ITIS. There are 754 valid and accepted species included.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 03, 2021 - Decapod Infraorders Achelata and Polychelida Get Global Coverage

Achelata and Polychelida have traditionally been treated as comprising infraorder Palinura, but morphological and molecular phylogenies from the 1990s–2000s found Polychelida to be basal in the Reptantia (a clade of decapod crustaceans excluding shrimp and prawns) and recognized the groups as separate infraorders (Bracken-Grissom et al., 2014). Polychelida are known as deep-sea or blind lobsters, because all live in deep ocean waters and have reduced eyes. Achelata includes the 'spiny lobsters' or 'rock lobsters' of family Palinuridae, and the 'slipper lobsters' of Scyllaridae. Neither of these infraorders includes true lobsters (which are included in infraorder Astacidea, the ITIS treatment of which was updated earlier this year).

The smallest species of 'slipper lobster' in the world is the pygmy locust lobster, Scyllarus pygmaeus (Bate, 1888), which typically grows to a full body length of only 4 cm (1.5 in) (Atlantis Gozo, 2015). Rock lobsters may be sold for human consumption as 'Florida lobster'.

This update comprises 442 new and edited names, of which 245 are new to ITIS. There are 186 valid and accepted species included.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 03, 2021 - Noctilionoidea (Including New World Leaf-nosed Bats) Updated

Superfamily Noctilionoidea contains seven families: Furipteridae, Mormoopidae, Mystacinidae, Myzopodidae, Noctilionidae, Phyllostomidae, and Thyropteridae. Mystacinidae is endemic to New Zealand and contains two species, one of which was last seen in 1967 and is presumed extinct (Mystacina robusta Dwyer, 1962, the New Zealand Greater Short-tailed Bat); the other of which is endangered (Mystacina tuberculata Gray, 1843, the New Zealand Lesser Short-tailed Bat) (NZ DOC). Myzopodidae contains only two species, both of which are endemic to Madagascar (Goodman et al., 2006). The Greater Bulldog Bat, Noctilio leporinus (Linnaeus, 1758), fishes in streams with its claws (see a video here). The New World Leaf-Nosed Bats, Phyllostomidae, are the most ecologically diverse family of bats. Besides insectivores, Phyllostomidae includes frugivores in subfamilies Stenodermatinae and Carolliniinae, the carnivorous Spectral Bat Vampyrum spectrum (Linnaeus, 1758), and the blood-drinking Vampire Bat Desmodus rotundus (E. Geoffroy, 1810). It also includes the Honduran White Bat Ectophylla alba H. Allen, 1892, famous for its habit of constructing tents out of understory plant leaves (Shah, 2021).

This update comprises 804 new and edited names, of which 77 are new to ITIS. There are 259 valid and accepted species included.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


April 02, 2021 - Global Coverage Added for Megalopodidae

Megalopodidae are a family of herbivorous beetles. The subfamilies are associated with various plant families, and the adult beetles and their larvae show specialist preference for feeding on certain genera or species of plants. Larvae are usually endophytic, and some are leaf miners (Rodríguez-Mirón, 2018).

This update comprises 647 new and edited names, of which 631 are new to ITIS. There are 590 valid and accepted species included, of which 9 are found in North America. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


April 02, 2021 - Global Coverage Updated for Cupedidae

The vernacular name 'reticulated beetles' refers to the distinct pattern of square punctures and ridges that characterizes the elongated elytra of members of Cupedidae. These beetles are generally found in rotten or fungus-infested wood, under bark or in dead stumps, and may bore into the wood of houses. They have been noted to be attracted to household bleach containing sodium hypochlorite (Evans and Hogue, 2006).

This update comprises 93 new and edited names, of which 8 are new to ITIS. There are 37 valid and accepted species included, of which 4 are found in North America. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


April 02, 2021 - Global Coverage Updated for Aquatic Heteropteran Family Pleidae ('Pygmy Backswimmers')

The pygmy backswimmers of family Pleidae (related to the backswimmers of family Notonectidae, of which global coverage was added to ITIS in 2018) swim belly-side up and live among thick aquatic vegetation (Nieser, 2004). Global coverage of Pleidae was also added to ITIS in 2018 but at the time the family contained 35 species; six new species were published in 2020. Both males and females of Pleidae can communicate by stridulation (BugLady, 2017).

This update comprises 79 new and edited names, of which 8 are new to ITIS. There are 41 valid and accepted species included, of which 6 are found in North America. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


April 02, 2021 - Lophogastrida Global Coverage Added

The Lophogastrida are an order of marine crustaceans related to the 'opossum shrimp' (Order Mysida), and are found worldwide in the pelagic zone or near the ocean floor (Price et al. in Felder and Camp [eds.], 2009). Neognathophausia ingens (Dohrn, 1870) is possibly the largest pelagic crustacean, as individuals may reach a length of 35 cm (14 in) (Cowles, 2006).

This update comprises 86 new and edited names, of which 30 are new to ITIS. There are 53 valid and accepted species included, of which 14 are found in North American waters.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


April 02, 2021 - Primates Global Coverage Updated

ITIS coverage of Primates was previously updated at the start of 2018. Four new taxa were described in 2019, and another four in 2020 (Mittermeier and Rylands, 2021); various other taxonomic updates were made as well. Recently-described species Presbytis johnaspinalli Nardelli, 2015 was placed in synonymy under Trachypithecus auratus (É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1812) when it was realized that its description had been based on individual monkeys whose fur had been partially bleached (Nijman, 2021)!

This update comprises 2,403 new and edited names, of which 56 are new to ITIS. There are 520 valid and accepted species included, of which 3 are found in North America. Anthony Rylands, Primate Conservation Director for Global Wildlife Conservation and Deputy Chair of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group, provided taxonomic and nomenclatural guidance.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


March 01, 2021 - Fish Superfamily Acanthuroidei (Surgeonfishes, Unicornfishes, and Related) Global Coverage Updated

'Surgeonfish' are named for the scalpel-like spines borne at the base of their tails (Waikiki Aquarium). Superfamily Acanthuroidei also includes rabbitfishes, spadefishes, and the monotypic family Zanclidae, which contains Zanclus cornutus (Linnaeus, 1758), a commonly-seen tropical species with widespread Indo-Pacific distribution (McGrouther (Australian Museum), 2018) that is notoriously difficult to keep in captivity (Hauter and Hauter, 2019).

Fish in the Genus Naso Lacepède, 1801 are called unicornfishes because some species have a rostral protuberance, a hornlike extension between their eyes and mouth that can be longer than 10 centimeters (Unicorn Yard).

The treatment is based on the work of Bill Eschmeyer, primary author of the Catalog of Fishes, maintained as a website hosted by the California Academy of Sciences, and was adapted for the ITIS update by Howard Jelks.

This update comprises 545 new and edited names, of which 331 are new to ITIS. There are 137 valid and accepted species included.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


March 01, 2021 - Global Coverage Added for Four lizard Families (Anguidae, Diploglossidae, Shinisauridae and Xenosauridae)

Anguidae includes the American legless lizards (subfamily Anniellinae; formerly treated in a separate family) and alligator lizards (subfamily Gerrhonotinae). Diploglossidae includes robust lizards commonly called galliwasps (Naish, 2015) as well as the worm lizards or glass snakes (Fauna Paraguay) of genus Ophiodes Wagler, 1828. Shinisauridae is a monotypic family, containing only the Chinese Crocodile Lizard, Shinisaurus crocodilurus Ahl, 1930 a semiaquatic lizard found only in China and Vietnam (Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute). Xenosauridae, the knob-scaled lizards (their skin texture is pebbly throughout), are native to Mexican uplands (with one species, Xenosaurus newmanorum Taylor, 1949 reaching Guatemala), and are sedentary sit-and-wait predators - the mean net daily movement of Xenosaurus newmanorum is 39 millimeters, and the daily activity radius of Xenosaurus grandis (Gray, 1856) is about 1 meter (Rodda, 2020).

This update comprises 371 new and edited names, of which 264 are new to ITIS. There are 150 valid and accepted species included, of which 14 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


March 01, 2021 - Global Marine Astacidea (True Lobsters and Reef Lobsters) and Glypheidea (Glyphoid Lobsters) Added

Glyphoid lobsters are a 'living fossil', thought to be extinct until a specimen was caught near the Philippines in 1975; this species was named Neoglyphea inopinata Forest and De Saint Laurent, 1975. A second glyphoid species, Laurentaeglyphea neocaledonica (Richer de Forges, 2006), was discovered near New Caledonia in 2005 (Boisselier-Dubayle et al, 2010).

Enoplometopoidea includes the reef lobsters of genus Enoplometopus A. Milne-Edwards, 1862. Reef lobsters have only one pair of claws, on their foremost pair of limbs; in contrast, the true lobsters, also known as clawed lobsters, of Nephropoidea Dana, 1852 have three pairs of claws (though only the first pair may be prominent.) True lobsters and reef lobsters are marine; together with the freshwater crayfish of superfamilies Astacoidea and Parastacoidea (updated in ITIS in 2020), they make up a complete Infraorder Astacidea for ITIS.

This update comprises 138 new and edited names, of which 58 are new to ITIS. There are 72 valid and accepted species included.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


March 01, 2021 - Regional Coverage for Seven Plant Families in the Orders Caryophyllales and Cucurbitales Updated

Based on the Flora of North America North of Mexico, volume 6, along with the Flora of the Hawaiian Islands and Flora of the West Indies websites, this update addressed families Droseraceae, Frankeniaceae, and Tamaricaceae in Caryophyllales, and Apodanthaceae, Begoniaceae, Cucurbitaceae, and Datiscaceae in Cucurbitales. Droseraceae is a family of carnivorous plants, including the sundews of genus Drosera L. and the Venus flytrap, Dionaea muscipula J. Ellis. Pilostyles thurberi A. Gray is an endoparasite; it lives out its life cycle on the inside of the stem of another plant, with only its blooming flowers visible on the outside (Hartwell, 2019).

This update comprises 368 new and edited names, of which 78 are new to ITIS. There are 147 valid and accepted species included, of which 88 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


February 01, 2021 - Global Coverage for Cimicidae ('bed bugs') Added

Bugs of the genus Cimex are infamous for sucking human blood at night; especially the common bed bug Cimex lectularius Linnaeus, 1758 of Nearctic and Palearctic regions and the tropical bed bug Cimex hemipterus (Fabricius, 1803). With hard-to-eradicate infestations, they have become a major problem in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia (Berneger and Parola, 2017).

Various cimicid bugs are known disease vectors, some possibly carrying zoonotic diseases: the swallow bug Cimex vicarius (Horváth, 1912) transmits Buggy Creek virus (BCRV) (Brown and Brown, 2005); Stricticimex parvus Ueshima, 1968 and Cimex insuetus Ueshima, 1968 transmit Kaeng Khoi virus (Williams et al., 1976); and multiple species are suspected vectors of Bartonella bacteria that cause bartonellosis (McKee et al. 2017). Subdivisions of bartonellosis include cat scratch disease, Carrion's disease, and trench fever (National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), 2020).

This update comprises 150 new and edited names, of which 113 are new to ITIS. There are 99 valid and accepted species included, of which 15 are found in North America. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


February 01, 2021 - Global Coverage for Polyctenidae ('bat bugs') Added

Bat bugs are obligate hematophagous (blood-eating) ectoparasites associated exclusively with bats (Chiroptera) (Amarga and Yap, 2017). They share a superfamily (Cimicoidea) with the bed bugs (Cimicidae; also updated in ITIS this month). Like bed bugs, bat bugs practice traumatic insemination (Tatarnic et al, 2014).

This update comprises 54 new and edited names, of which 48 are new to ITIS. There are 32 valid and accepted species included, of which 2 are found in North America. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


February 01, 2021 - Enarthronota (an Infraorder of Oribatid Mite) Updated

Three species of Enarthronota (Eniochthonius minutissimus, now recognized as Hypochthoniella minutissima (Berlese, 1903); Archoplophora rostralis (Willmann, 1930), and Prototritia major (Jacot, 1933)) deposit whewellite, a form of calcium oxalate (Norton and Behan-Pelletier, 1991).

A species discovered in 2013, Psammochthonius kethleyi Fuangarworn & Norton, 2013, displays paedomorphy — juvenile traits retained in the adult — in that adults lack an anal segment and the setae (hair-like structures that can function like mechano- or chemoreceptors (Walter, 2005)) on their legs are regressed compared to what is normal for related mites. (Fuangarworn and Norton, 2013).

This update comprises 909 new and edited names, 212 of which are new to ITIS. There are 627 valid and accepted species included, of which 80 are found in North America. This update is primarily based on the comprehensive work Listado Sistemático, Sinonímico y Biogeográfico de los Ácaros Oribátidos (Acariformes: Oribatida) del Mundo by Luis S. Subías.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


December 22, 2020 - Piciformes (woodpeckers, toucans, barbets) Globally Updated

Woodpeckers have a variety of adaptations to protect their brain from damage during repeated and rapid collisions with wood, including a thick and porous skull, a small brain housed in a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid, and a tongue so long that it wraps around the back of the skull and acts like a shock absorber when it contracts just before a strike (see The Science Monk video, 2017). The iconic large size and bright color of a toucan bill is less thoroughly understood (National Geographic, 2021); it is thought to play a role in courtship rituals, defensive display, or cooling the body.

This update comprises 2,050 new and edited names, of which 447 are new to ITIS. There are 445 valid and accepted species included, of which 25 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


December 22, 2020 - Pteropodidae (fruit bats) and Rhinopomatidae Globally Updated

Bats are an immensely diverse group of mammals, and family Pteropodidae itself includes widely divergent species worldwide. The Golden-capped Flying Fox, Acerodon jubatus (Eschscholtz, 1831), and the Large Flying Fox aka Giant Philippine Fruit Bat, Pteropus vampyrus lanensis Mearns, 1905, both of southern Asia, can have wingspans greater than 5 feet wide. The Common Tent-making Bat, Uroderma bilobatum Peters, 1866, of Central and South America, chews the midlines of leaves to make them fold over and then sleeps inside. Vampire bats, like Desmodus rotundus (E. Geoffroy, 1810), practice altruism, sharing blood and co-parenting young (Malsbury, 2020).

This update comprises 737 new and edited names, of which 76 are new to ITIS. There are 203 valid and accepted species included (197 in Pteropodidae and 6 in Rhinopomatidae), none of which are found in North America. It also completes the 2020 update of the bat suborder Yinpterochiroptera Springer, Teeling, Madsen, Stanhope and Jong, 2001, providing full and current coverage of the world. The suborder Yinpterochiroptera contains 415 species, representing almost one third of all bat species.

Future updates will target groups such as the larger suborder Yangochiroptera Koopman, 1984. Note, bats were traditionally divided into two suborders, Microchiroptera and Megachiroptera, based on morphological cladistics. However, molecular studies suggested that rhinolophoid microbats are more closely related to the megabat family Pteropodidae than to other microbats, rendering Microchiroptera paraphyletic. A new taxonomy (Springer, 2013) divides bats into Yangochiroptera, including 12 microbat families, and Yinpterochiroptera, including six microbat families in Rhinolophoidea plus Old World fruit bats.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


December 22, 2020 - Braconid Wasp Subfamily Microgastrinae Added

The Braconidae are the second-largest family in order Hymenoptera, with about 17,000 recognized species; it has been estimated that described and undescribed species together total over 42,000 (Jones et al., 2009).

Subfamily Microgastrinae are one of the principal groups of predators on herbivorous caterpillars; they are commonly used in biological control programs worldwide (Fernandez-Triana et al., 2020). They are koinobiont parasitoids, meaning that the caterpillars continue to live and grow even after they have become hosts for wasp eggs.

This update adds full and current global coverage for subfamily Microgastrinae, and also adds the other 40-plus braconid subfamilies in preparation for future additions and updates. The Microgastrinae update is largely based on the 1,089 page monograph by Fernandez-Triana et al. 2020 and comprises 3,248 new and edited names, of which 3,207 are new to ITIS. There are 3,015 valid and accepted species included in Microgastrinae, of which 347 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


December 22, 2020 - Three Lizard Families Updated: Cordylidae, Gerrhosauridae, and Xantusiidae

The Cordylidae, known as 'girdle-tailed lizards' or 'armored lizards', are named for the bony plates embedded in their skin. Herpetologists use CT scans to study the bony plates, as well as the skeletons, without having to harm museum specimens for future research. The Armadillo Girdled Lizard, Ouroborus cataphractus (Boie, 1828), is named 'ouroborus' for its defensive habit of rolling into a ball and biting its tail (see Science Today video, 2014).

Some 'plated lizards' of family Gerrhosauridae are native to Africa. They are popular in the pet trade; those sold are often caught in the wild, as they are difficult to breed in captivity. Broadleysaurus major (Duméril, 1851) has been known to share its burrow in the wild with other animals, like snakes (Oakland Zoo, 2020).

The type genus of family Xantusiidae - ('night lizards'), Xantusia Baird, 1859, honors naturalist János Xantus, who collected specimens for Spencer F. Baird and the Smithsonian in California and Mexico, 1857-1864.

This update comprises 226 new and edited names, of which 190 are new to ITIS. There are 142 valid and accepted species included (70 in Cordylidae, 37 in Gerrhosauridae, and 35 Xantusiidae), of which 8 (all in Xantusia) are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


December 22, 2020 - Idiostoloidea Updated

Idiostoloidea is a small heteropteran superfamily within infraorder Pentatomomorpha. It contains two families with just six valid species in total, four of which are distributed in Australia and two in South America. This update comprises 18 new and edited names, of which five are new to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


December 01, 2020 - Acanthosomatidae Global Coverage Added

Acanthosomatids are a cosmopolitan group that used to be considered part of shield bug family Pentatomidae. Multiple lineages within the family have evolved maternal care, that is, guarding eggs and nymphs. Other acanthosomatids do not attend their eggs after laying, but smear them with a protective secretion from a special organ called Pendergrast's organ (Tsai et al, 2015).

The most recent world catalog that explicitly listed all the species of this family was Kirby's 1909 Catalogue of World Hemiptera (Heteroptera), although a world catalog (Kumar's Revision of World Acanthosomatidae) was published in 1974 (but did not always give all of the explicit name combinations). This file was compiled from these and many other publications and regional checklists by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


October 28, 2020 - Bat Families in Rhinolophoidea Updated

Bat superfamily Rhinolophoidea Gray, 1825 comprises six families, including large Old World families Hipposideridae Lydekker, 1891 (leaf-nosed bats) and Rhinolophidae Gray, 1825 (horseshoe bats). Species of bats, especially in genus Rhinolophus Lacépède, 1799 and genus Hipposideros Gray, 1831, have been implicated as reservoirs for zoonotic disease, in particular, SARS-related coronaviruses (Hu et al., 2018), including the novel coronavirus that has caused the current COVID-19 global pandemic (Zhou et al., 2020).

ITIS is in the process of reviewing and updating various animals that serve as vectors for zoonotic human diseases, with an intent to mobilize data on species across the entire pathway of zoonotic disease risk and spread. Up-to-date taxonomic data facilitates research and communication on pathogens, vectors, hosts, reservoirs, and species with ecological associations.

A future follow-up will update the megabat family Pteropodidae Gray, 1821 along with a remaining small family within Rhinolophoidea Gray, 1825, completing a global coverage update of bat suborder Yinpterochiroptera Springer, Teeling, Madsen, Stanhope and Jong, 2001.

This update comprises 736 new and edited names, 60 of which are new to ITIS. There are 212 valid and accepted species included, none of which are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


October 28, 2020 - Pauropoda Global Coverage Added

Pauropods are small (0.5-2.0mm) myriapods (related to centipedes and millipedes) that live in soil and leaf litter around the world, especially in tropical areas. They have 8-11 body segments, each segment bearing a pair of legs; they have distinctive branched antennae; and they have no eyes (Scheller and Minor, 2010). (Macro photography images of pauropods from locations around the world can be seen on Andy Murray's "A Chaos of Delight: Exploring Life in the Soil" blog.)

This update comprises 1,546 new and edited names, 1,540 of which are new to ITIS. There are 995 valid and accepted species included, of which 144 are found in North America.

As there is not a comprehensive, current global data set of pauropod taxonomic names in existence, this update was synthesized from primary taxonomic literature. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


October 28, 2020 - Mite Suborder Endeostigmata Added

Endeostigmata are primitive mites; as many reproduce through parthenogenesis, it has been suggested that some species extant today are identical to mites that lived in Gondwana, 180 million years ago (Walter, 2001).

Endeostigmatids of family Nematalycidae have elongated bodies, and their locomotion methods are more akin to worms than to their fellow arachnids (Bolton et al., 2015). A new species in family Nematalycidae was discovered on a college campus in Ohio in 2014: Osperalycus tenerphagus Bolton and Klompen in Bolton et al., 2014.

This update comprises 222 new and edited names, of which 190 are new to ITIS. There are 122 valid and accepted species included, of which 22 are found in North America.

Because no modern global catalog exists, the ITIS treatment was compiled through literature research conducted by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, with assistance from Samuel J. Bolton, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


September 29, 2020 - Freshwater Crayfish (Infraorder Astacidea, Superfamilies Astacoidea & Parastacoidea) Updated

Infraorder Astacidea contains the crayfish, or crawdads, of superfamilies Astacoidea and Parastacoidea (which inhabit freshwater). The infraorder also includes true lobsters and deep sea lobsters in other superfamilies (which inhabit saltwater), whose taxonomy will be addressed in a future update. Crayfish are smaller than lobsters, generally speaking, but the Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish, Astacopsis gouldi Clark, 1936, can reach a size of over 5 kg (11 lb.) in weight and 80 cm (31 in.) in length. Crayfish can be used as biological indicators of pollution in waterways (Schilderman et al., 1999). In a unique case, a brewery in the Czech Republic raises crayfish in water taken from the same source that it uses to make its beer; equipping them with infrared bio-sensors, the brewery staff monitor the quality of the water by observing the behavior and heartbeat of the crayfish (Reuters, 2020).

This update comprises 1,280 new and edited names, 756 of which are new to ITIS. There are 682 valid and accepted species included, of which 405 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


September 29, 2020 - Largidae ('bordered plant bugs') Global Coverage Added

Largidae are called 'bordered plant bugs' because they feed on plant juices or seeds, and many species have hemelytra (forewings) with a colorful contrasting border. Some species—for example, Arhaphe carolina Herrich-Schaeffer, 1850 of the United States—are ant mimics.

This update comprises 335 new and edited names, 297 of which are new to ITIS. There are 217 valid and accepted species included, of which 17 are found in North America.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


September 29, 2020 - Alydidae ('broad-headed bugs') Global Coverage Added

Alydidae, or 'broad-headed bugs', are a phytophagous group that consume mostly flowers or seeds of leguminous (bean) or gramineous (grain) plants. It contains crop pests, including Leptocorisa acuta (Thunberg, 1783), an economically significant pest of rice crops in Australian, Asian, Pacific, and Central American regions. It also contains ant mimic species; for example, Dulichius inflatus (Kirby, 1891).

This update comprises 387 new and edited names, of which 315 are new to ITIS. There are 285 valid and accepted species included, of which 33 are found in North America.

The update is largely based on the Coreoidea Species File by the CoreoideaSF Team. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


September 29, 2020 - Tessaratomidae Global Coverage Added

Tessaratomids are true bugs found primarily in the Old World. A few species have been documented as providing maternal care, such as sitting on eggs and carrying larvae (Gogala et al., 1998 and Monteith, 2011). Some species are agricultural pests; including Tessaratoma papillosa (Drury, 1770), which infests litchi (lychee) and longan fruit crops in China (Zhao et al., 2012). Others are edible (Dzerefos et al., 2014). Like the related stink bugs of family Pentatomidae, tessaratomids produce a variety of noxious defense chemicals and pheromones.

This update comprises 357 new and edited names, of which 350 are new to ITIS. There are 259 valid and accepted species included, none of which are found in North America.

The update is largely based on the Illustrated catalog of TESSARATOMIDAE by Philippe Magnien. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


September 29, 2020 - Bryophyta (Mosses) of North America Updated

The modern taxonomic division Bryophyta contains only mosses, even though mosses, hornworts, and liverworts were previously classified together—as nonvascular plants in which the haploid gametophyte generation is dominant—and may still informally be called bryophytes collectively. The current update was based on the Flora of North America, volumes 27 and 28, along with more recent literature, including two checklists (Staples et al., 2004 and Shevock et al., 2019) covering mosses of Hawaii.

Physcomitrella patens (Hedw.) Bruch & Schimp. is used as a model organism to study plant biological processes, evolutionary history of land plants, and gene targeting (Schaefer and Zrÿd, 2001). In more recent years, it has also been used to produce commercial products and biopharmaceuticals (Reski et al., 2018).

This update comprises 6,783 new and edited names, of which 2,601 are new to ITIS. There are 1,701 valid and accepted species included, of which 1,438 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


September 29, 2020 - Pycnogonida Global Coverage Updated

Pycnogonids are marine arthropods, known as 'sea spiders', belonging to subphylum Chelicerata along with arachnids and horseshoe crabs. They are cosmopolitan, but most diverse in southern polar seas (Ballesteros et al., 2020). They have a highly modified body plan: their thorax and abdomen are so thin that their digestive system involves diverticula that extend into their legs. They absorb oxygen through osmosis through their legs; and peristaltic contractions of the gut in their legs aid their heart in pumping blood throughout their body (University of Hawai'i News, 2017).

This update comprises 2,139 new and edited names, of which 1,989 are new to ITIS. There are 1,378 valid and accepted species included.

The update is largely based on PycnoBase: World Pycnogonida Database by Roger N. Bamber, Aliya El Nagar, and Claudia P. Arango, with additional updates to cover recent taxonomy.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


August 31, 2020 - Bee Subfamily Apinae Updated

Subfamily Apinae within family Apidae contains the familiar, and ecologically and economically important, corbiculate bees: tribe Apini (honey bees), Meliponini (stingless bees), Bombini (bumble bees), and Euglossini (orchid bees) (Smith-Pardo and Engel, 2011). 'Corbiculate' refers to bees having a 'pollen basket': a region on the hind tibia that is specialized for collecting and carrying pollen. While Apinae contains the famously eusocial honeybees, most species in the subfamily are solitary, and some are cleptoparasites - bees that lay their eggs in the nests of other bees - for example, Leiopodus singularis (Linsley and Michener, 1937).

This update comprises 10,013 new and edited names, 6,012 of which are new to ITIS. There are 3,767 valid and accepted species included, of which 481 are found in North America.

The update is based upon the treatment in the Discover Life Bee Species Guide and World Checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Apidae : Apinae) by Ascher and Pickering. John S. Ascher, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore provided taxonomic and nomenclatural guidance, and Michael C. Orr, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing reviewed the Anthophorini.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


August 31, 2020 - Global Pinnipeds Updated

The term 'pinniped', derived from Latin roots 'pinna' and 'pedis', means 'feather footed' and refers to the shape of the limbs of members of the group: Otariidae (fur seals and sea lions), Phocidae (earless seals), and Odobenidae (walruses). Pinnipeds belong to order Carnivora, and are most closely related either to Ursidae (bears) or Musteloidea (weasels, otters, procyonids, skunks, red panda) (Berta et al., 2018).

Two species were driven to extinction by excessive hunting in the past century: the Caribbean Monk Seal (Neomonachus tropicalis (Gray, 1850)) and the Japanese Sea Lion (Zalophus japonicus (Peters, 1866)) (Würsig et al., 2009). Seven species are considered Endangered by the IUCN, and another three are considered Vulnerable, and one Near Threatened.

This update comprises 197 new and edited names, 86 of which are new to ITIS. There are 35 valid and accepted species included, of which 14 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


August 31, 2020 - Malvales of North America Updated

Plants of order Malvales are often characterized by palmate and pulvinate (the base of the petiole is swollen) leaves, by stellate hairs, and by numerous stamens. Notable members of family Malvaceae (currently circumscribed more broadly than in the past) include the ornamental Hibiscus L. species, cotton of genus Gossypium L., baobabs of genus Adansonia L., and Theobroma cacao L. from which chocolate is made. Based on the treatment in the Flora of North America, vol. 6 (2016), this update comprised five additional families, including species native and introduced to the contiguous United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For example, a dozen species of genus Wikstroemia Endl. in family Thymelaeaceae are native to Hawaii and have traditional uses as medicine, for construction and fibers, and as fish poison.

This update comprises 1,365 new and edited names, 354 of which are new to ITIS. There are 586 valid and accepted species included, of which 328 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


August 31, 2020 - Freshwater Snails of North America Updated

The category 'freshwater snails' is a widely polyphyletic grouping; even within the geographic bounds of the contiguous United States and Canada the category includes gastropods from five different orders. Approximately 75% of freshwater snail species in North America are threatened, endangered, of conservation concern, or are already thought to have been driven to extinction (Johnson, 2019). Notable families of freshwater snails include:

    - Snails of family Physidae have been used in studies of phenotypic plasticity; for example, studying how shell shape and thickness varies across generations because of interactions with predators (Bourdeau et al., 2015).
    - Taxonomy within family Pleuroceridae is especially difficult to resolve because taxa in it have a remarkably high level of mitochondrial genetic diversity (Whelan and Strong, 2016).
    - Ampullariidae includes the applesnails of genus Pomacea Perry, 1810, multiple species of which are highly invasive in the United States; they pose an especially high risk because they regularly lay clutches of over 100 eggs, and lay multiple clutches in a season (Keller at al., 2007).

This update comprises 1,584 new and edited names, 331 of which are new to ITIS. There are 586 valid and accepted species included, of which 787 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


July 28, 2020 - Pseudoscorpions Updated

Pseudoscorpions (order Pseudoscorpiones) are tiny arachnids (mostly less than 1 cm long) that superficially resemble scorpions without stinging tails. They live in a variety of habitats, such as soil, leaf litter, and between rocks, from tropical to cold regions worldwide. They may also live inside houses, where they may commonly be found preying on booklice, earning them the vernacular 'book scorpions'. Cave pseudoscorpions are often rare endemics. For example Tyrannochthonius aladdinensis Chamberlin, 1995 is only found in Aladdin Cave in Madison County, Alabama, USA. Pseudoscorpions practice phoresy: a travel strategy that involves hitching a ride on a larger arthropod.

This update comprises 5,099 new and edited names, 718 of which are new to ITIS. There are 3,788 valid and accepted species included, of which 408 are found in North America. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


July 28, 2020 - Amphisbaenia Updated

Suborder Amphisbaenia comprises six families of burrowing lizards, most of which are limbless. The three species in genus Bipes Latreille in Sonnini and Latreille, 1801, the sole genus in family Bipedidae, retain forelimbs; their vernacular names identify them by number of toes (Three-toed Worm Lizard, Four-toed Worm Lizard, Five-toed Worm Lizard). While superficially similar to snakes, limbless lizards evolved independently. Snakes and amphisbaenians can be distinguished from each other in a number of ways; for example, snakes do not have eyelids or external ears, while lizards generally do.

This update comprises 338 new and edited names, 314 of which are new to ITIS. There are 201 valid and accepted species included, of which one is found in North America (the Florida worm lizard, Rhineura floridana (Baird, 1858).

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


June 29, 2020 - Columbiformes (Pigeons and Doves) Updated

The terms pigeon and dove are essentially interchangeable. There are 344 species of pigeon and dove recognized worldwide, some with brightly colored and showy feathers, including the Nicobar Pigeon, Victoria Crowned Pigeon, and fruit-doves of the genus Ptilinopus Swainson, 1825 such as the Wompoo Fruit Dove. The domesticated fancy pigeons, homing pigeons, and feral pigeon of cities are descended from the wild Rock Dove (Columbia livia J. F. Gmelin, 1789), which genome was sequenced in 2013 (Shapiro et al., 2013). There are hundreds of recognized breeds of domesticated pigeons such as the Berliner Shortface Champ and the Dewlap Frillback, and Charles Darwin studied domesticated pigeons to gather information for his theories on artificial and natural selection (Secord, 1981).

This update comprises 1,247 new and edited names, 201 of which are new to ITIS. There are 344 valid and accepted species included, of which 19 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 27, 2020 - Global Varroidae Added

Varroidae may be a small family, containing only 6 accepted species worldwide, but it has a large global impact. Varroa destructor Anderson and Trueman, 2000 has spread nearly worldwide since it began infesting managed European honey bee populations (Apis mellifera Linnaeus, 1758) in the 1970s, and is now believed to be one of the main parasitic stressors causing colony losses worldwide (Roth et al., 2020). Other stressors are poor nutrition and pesticides (Ramsey, 2020). The destructor epithet is fitting because this parasitic mite feeds on the lipids of larval, pupal, and adult bees, weakening them, and also acts as a vector for a variety of bee diseases, including deformed wing virus.

This update comprises 9 new and edited names, 8 of which are new to ITIS. There are 6 valid and accepted species included, of which 1 is found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 27, 2020 - Three Infraorders of Oribatid Mite (Holosomata, Palaeosomata, and Parhyposomata) Updated

Oribatid mites are one of the most dominant arthropod groups found in soils worldwide; they can reach densities of several hundred thousand individuals per square meter (BugGuide, 2020). Archegozetes magnus longisetosus Aoki, 1965 (Holosomata) is used as a model organism for chelicerates because of its relatively short life cycle and ability to thrive in a laboratory. It is a parthenogenic (asexually reproducing) species, and all of its laboratory lineages are descended from a single female collected in 1993 (Heethoff et al., 2007). Individuals of this species of mite have been observed pulling with 530 times their weight, exerting forces five times higher than theoretically expected for organisms of their size (<1 mm, 100 µg) (Heethoff and Koerner, 2007).

This update comprises 904 new and edited names, 331 of which are new to ITIS. There are 557 valid and accepted species included, of which 73 are found in North America. This update is primarily based on the comprehensive work Listado Sistemático, Sinonímico y Biogeográfico de los Ácaros Oribátidos (Acariformes: Oribatida) del Mundo by Luis S. Subías.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


April 30, 2020 - Mixonomata (oribatid mites) Updated

Mixonomata is a large suborder within the chewing mite order Oribatida. Oribatid mites are not parasitic, but some species transmit parasitic tapeworms (Denegri, 1993). The few species of genus Collohmannia (the only genus in family Collohmanniidae) are among the largest oribatids, at approximately 1-2mm; they appear to be endemic in distribution; and they are the only mites outside suborder Brachyplina that exhibit sexual dimorphism and courtship behavior. Courtship behavior includes males producing and offering nuptial fluid to eat (Norton and Sidorchuk, 2014). Collohmannia gigantea Sellnick, 1922 secretes oils used as alarm pheromones (alerting other mites) and allomones (deterring predatory beetles) (Raspotnig, 2006).

This update comprises 2,192 new and edited names, 951 of which are new to ITIS. There are 1,364 valid and accepted species included, of which 109 are found in North America. This update is primarily based on the comprehensive work Listado Sistemático, Sinonímico y Biogeográfico de los Ácaros Oribátidos (Acariformes: Oribatida) del Mundo by Luis S. Subías.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


March 25, 2020 - Notostraca (tadpole shrimp) and Anostraca (brine or fairy shrimp) Updated

Tadpole shrimp and brine or fairy shrimp are not true shrimp (which are groups of decapod crustaceans within class Malacostraca), but are orders within class Branchiopoda. Branchiopods are distinguished by having gills on their feet.

Notostraca have near-worldwide distribution; and yet, the order contains only a single family containing 22 species within two genera. They are considered 'living fossils', as modern representatives of the order resemble late Permian and early Triassic fossils, meaning they have apparently remained virtually unchanged for 250 million years (Vanschoenwinkel et al. 2012). The vernacular 'tadpole shrimp' refers to their appearance, with a large, bluntly rounded carapace and thin tail-like abdomen; they also regularly live in temporary and/or shallow aquatic environments. This update comprises 105 new and edited names, 85 of which are new to ITIS. There are 22 valid and accepted species included, of which 8 are found in North America.

Brine shrimp are notable for their ability to survive as cysts (hardy eggs) in a state of anhydrobiosis for many years. Artemia salina (Linnaeus, 1758) have been used by the NASA to assess the effects of microgravity and cosmic radiation (Spooner et al., 1992); they have been flown to the Moon and back on the Apollo 16 and 17 missions; and they have been studied by NASA's Life Sciences programs as a potential source of food for astronauts and food fish during long-term space travel. Brine shrimp are an important source of food for wild birds and fish; they are also extensively used in aquaculture as food for farmed fish and shrimp. Sea-Monkeys, the novelty 'instant life' pet, is a laboratory-bred hybrid species of genus Artemia. This update comprises 705 new and edited names, 361 of which are new to ITIS. There are 353 valid and accepted species included, of which 62 are found in North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


March 3, 2020 - Three Arachnid Orders Updated: Schizomida (short-tailed whipscorpions), Solifugae (sun-spiders, wind-scorpions), and Uropygi (whip-scorpions)

Schizomids (Schizomida) have a distinctive prosoma (aka cephalothorax): the dorsal surface is covered by plates. Like the Uropygi, they can secrete a chemical that smells of acetone (Harvey, 2003, p. 101). They are small, generally less than 1 cm long. The update comprises 520 new and edited names, 210 of which are new to ITIS. There are 358 valid and accepted species included, of which 12 are found in North America.

Solifugae are often called sun spiders, for their diurnal activity, or wind-scorpions, for their speed in running. They have massive chelicera that are used for capturing prey, fighting with other sun spiders, and mating (Harvey, 2003, p. 197-198). This YouTube video lists and debunks several myths about them. The update comprises 1,495 new and edited names, 148 of which are new to ITIS. There are 1,146 valid and accepted species included, of which 172 are found in North America.

Uropygi (Whip Scorpions) have notably large pedipalps and a long flagellum. Their abdominal glands can spray a noxious fluid to deter predators (Harvey, 2003, p. 59), giving them the vernacular name Vinegaroon. In the United States, the largest species is Mastigoproctus giganteus (Lucas, 1835), which can grow to be 6 cm (almost 2.5 inches) long - excluding the tail. (A short video of a Mastigoproctus giganteus walking can be watched on YouTube.) The update comprises 192 new and edited names, 50 of which are new to ITIS. There are 120 valid and accepted species included, of which 3 are found in North America.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


March 3, 2020 - Two Spider Families Updated: Gnaphosidae (stealthy ground spiders) and Trochanteriidae (flat rock spiders)

Stealthy Ground Spiders (Gnaphosidae) actively chase down and subdue their prey; they are able to tackle relatively large and dangerous prey, including other spiders. They may use their sticky silk to entangle the legs and mouth parts of their target; or grab the prey directly with their front legs (Wolff et al., 2017).

Spiders in family Trochanteriidae are sometimes called flat rock spiders or flat-spiders for their dorsally-compressed form, especially members of the genus Plator Simon, 1880 (Lin and Zhu, 2016).

Together, these two families include 2,692 species worldwide, of which 257 are found in North America. The update comprises 3,188 new and edited names, of which 286 are new to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


January 31, 2020 - Three Arachnid Orders Updated: Amblypygi (Tail-Less Whip Scorpions), Palpigradi (Microscorpions), and Ricinulei (Hooded Tickspiders)

Amblypygi, literally 'blunt-rump' arachnids, are so named because they lack the flagellum of related arachnid orders like Uropygi or Palpigradi. They are also called whip spiders (not to be confused with the whip scorpions, Uropygi). Their first pair of legs is modified into long, thin sensory appendages. They have no venom, and capture and immobilize prey with the use of large pedipalps (Seiter et al. 2019). The update comprises 288 new and edited names, 86 of which are new to ITIS. There are 217 valid and accepted species included, of which 4 are found in North America.

Palpigradi (microscorpions) are rare, small, fragile, live only underground (i.e., in soil or caves), and so are difficult to study. They are assumed to be predatory but have been observed feeding on cyanobacteria (Smrž et al., 2013). The order includes 109 species, of which 3 are cited for North America. The update comprises 148 new and edited names, 36 of which are new to ITIS.

Ricinulei are an enigmatic, cryptic, and highly endemic order of arachnids, comprising 89 species distributed in tropical Africa and the neotropics, and just one cited for North America. The vernacular "hooded tickspiders" refers to a distinctive cucullus (a hood-like hinged plate) that can cover the mouthparts (Fernández and Giribet, 2015 and García et al. 2015). The update comprises 99 new and edited names, 34 of which are new to ITIS.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


January 31, 2020 - Three Spider Families Updated: Araneidae (Including Nephilidae), Arkyidae and Mimetidae

Orb weaver spiders of family Araneidae build webs of the classic shape, with concentric circles and spokes radiating out from a central point. Females build and tend the webs, while males wander in search of a mate. The family includes 2984 species.

Previously classified as part of family Araneidae, spiders of family Arkyidae do not build webs, but are ambush predators. They may be bright-colored, or camouflaged as bark or leaves, or even camouflaged as bird droppings as is Arkys curtulus (Simon, 1903). The family includes 38 species.

Pirate spiders (Mimetidae) are so named because they invade other spiders' webs and eat their egg sacs, captured prey, and most of all, the other spiders themselves (they are also sometimes referred to as cannibal spiders). The family includes 150 species.

Together, these three families include 3,172 species worldwide, of which 186 are found in North America. The update comprises 3,850 new and edited names, of which 365 are new to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


December 19, 2019 - Three Spider Families Updated (Agelenidae, Lycosidae, and Pisauridae)

The family Agelenidae, also known as funnel-web spiders, includes the grass spiders of North America that commonly build horizontal sheet webs on bushes and grass. It also includes the giant house spider Eratigena atrica (C. L. Koch, 1843), which can have a legspan of up to 4 inches, and the hobo spider Eratigena agrestis (Walckenaer, 1802), which has been rumored to deliver necrotizing venom with its bite (though this is uncertain). Both species are native to Europe and have been introduced to North America.

Wolf spiders of the family Lycosidae do not spin webs, but hunt by running down their prey. Two of their eyes are distinctly larger than the other six, which distinguishes them from Pisauridae. They have excellent eyesight, and at night their eyes will reflect eyeshine. Females exhibit strong maternal care: a mother wolf spider will carry her egg sac in her spinnerets, and when the babies hatch they will ride on her back (the length of time varies between species, from several hours to a few days to more than two weeks (Eason, 1964)). In 2000, South Carolina designated the Carolina wolf spider, Hogna carolinensis (Walckenaer, 1805) as their state spider. They were the first state to designate a spider as an official state symbol.

Nursery web spiders of the family Pisauridae are named for their maternal care. A mother spider will carry her egg sac in her chelicerae, weave a protective tent of silk around it, and stand guard over the hatchlings. Pisaura mirabilis (Clerck, 1757) are notable for their courtship behavior: males dramatically increase their reproductive success by offering females a silk-wrapped gift of food, but will sometimes (6 out of 16 gifts in one study) try to deceive her with a nutritionally worthless gift (like a bit of plant or empty insect carcass). Males that offer worthless gifts mate about as often, but for less time, as males that offer nutritionally valuable gifts, disadvantaging the deceitful males in sperm competition (Albo et al., 2011).

Together, these three families include 4,110 species worldwide, of which 378 are found in North America. The update comprises 4,858 new and edited names, of which 855 are new to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


November 26, 2019 - Symphyla Global Coverage Added

Known as pseudocentipedes or garden centipedes, members of Class Symphyla are small (0.2-1.2 cm in length), soil-dwelling arthropods that have no pigment and no eyes. Species Scutigerella immaculata (Newport, 1845) is a common agricultural pest that feeds on seedlings, roots, and tubers; it has been introduced widely and is nearly cosmopolitan.

Class Symphyla includes 235 species, of which 28 are cited for North America; this update comprises 315 new and edited names. As no recent, comprehensive treatment existed, the current ITIS treatment is a synthesis of partial lists (over 100 publications, covering national lists, regional lists, revisions of particular genera, and so on) combined into a coherent whole. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


November 26, 2019 - Fish Genus Percina Updated

Roughbelly darters (genus Percina Haldeman, 1842), some of which are known as logperches, are small freshwater fish native to North America. The genus includes 49 species. In 2018, the Chesapeake Logperch, Percina bimaculata Haldeman, 1844, was targeted for conservation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, with a team of other conservation agencies, will receive a two-year grant of nearly $40,000 to preserve its habitat in the Susquehanna River basin and hopefully save it from being listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The treatment is based on the work of Bill Eschmeyer, primary author of the Catalogue of Fishes, maintained as a website hosted by the California Academy of Sciences, and was adapted for the ITIS update by Dr. Thomas Orrell.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


November 26, 2019 - Three Spider Families Updated (Pholcidae, Salticidae, and Theridiidae)

Spiders of family Pholcidae have extremely long and thin legs; they are commonly known as cellar spiders or daddylongleg spiders (not to be confused with arachnids of order Opiliones, which are sometimes also called daddy longlegs). The family includes 1,728 species worldwide, of which 44 are found in North America. The update comprises 1,901 new and edited names, of which 732 are new to ITIS.

Salticidae are the jumping spiders. The largest family of spiders, Salticidae contains 6,134 species worldwide (of which 342 are found in North America); about 13% of all spider species. Males of genus Maratus Karsch, 1878, known as peacock spiders, are known for bright colors and flashy courtship displays. Video of the courtship display of Maratus speciosus (O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1874) can be watched on YouTube. The update comprises 7,615 new and edited names, of which 1,709 are new to ITIS.

Family Theridiidae, known as cobweb spiders, are commonly found in human dwellings throughout the world. It includes the infamous black widow spiders of the United States: the Western Black Widow Latrodectus hesperus Chamberlin & Ivie, 1935, Southern Black Widow L. mactans (Fabricius, 1775), and Northern Black Widow L. variolus Walckenaer, 1837. The family includes 2,488 species worldwide, of which 246 are found in North America. The update comprises 2,775 new and edited names, of which 320 are new to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


November 06, 2019 - Tick Global Coverage Added

Ticks are among the most important vectors of disease affecting humans, livestock, and wildlife; they transmit a greater variety of infectious agents to humans and domestic animals than any other arthropod vector. Worldwide, ticks (Order Ixodida) encompass three families: the Ixodidae or 'hard ticks', the Argasidae or 'soft ticks', and the monotypic Nuttalliellidae. The current update adds 958 accepted species globally, 78 of which are found in North America.

The update was completed with the guidance and help of world tick expert Rich Robbins. He talks ticks in this recent article in the Smithsonian Torch (29 March 2019), entitled 'Everything you ever wanted to know about ticks, but were afraid to ask'.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


November 06, 2019 - Cetacean (Whales and Dolphins) Global Coverage Updated

ITIS' worldwide update of the 90 species of whale and dolphin worldwide is based on two current sources: the Society for Marine Mammalogy's 2018 list, and the 2018 Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, 3rd edition (Würsig et al. [eds,] 2018), with guidance and assistance from Smithsonian expert Jim Mead. The current update includes 539 edited names, 30 of which are new to ITIS. One newly added taxon is the recently described species of beaked whale Berardius minimus Yamada, Kitamura and Matsuishi in Yamada, Kitamura, Abe, Tajima, Matsuda, Mead and Matsuishi, 2019.

The baiji - Lipotes vexillifer Miller, 1918, a freshwater dolphin found in China - has likely gone extinct in the last couple of decades. The Society for Marine Mammalogy lists it as 'possibly extinct' to match its status as given by the IUCN Red List, but adds 'extinction seems a certainty.' It was declared extinct by an advocacy organization in 2007. A rumor of the species' survival surfaced in 2016, which was met with both joy and skepticism. Over a dozen other cetacean species are considered Endangered or Critically Endangered.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


November 06, 2019 - Arachnid Hierarchy Updated

This update of hierarchy within Chelicerata, with focus on Arachnida, has three major aspects.

  1. Addition of class Euchelicerata for Arachnida+Xiphosura (those names now accepted at subclass rank to accommodate it).
  2. Addition of global hierarchy of Arachnida to family, following the ongoing work of Ruggiero et al.
  3. Update of Oribatida (the order of beetle mites) to genus, following Subias' World Catalog for this group, which is hosted by Biología y Biodiversidad de Artrópodos. Further updates are underway to bring the species and subspecific rank names up to date as well.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


September 30, 2019 - Amphibian Global Coverage Updated

Amphibians - including frogs, toads, salamanders, and caecilians - are the most threatened vertebrate class on earth: according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 40% of amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Amphibians form a vital part of many ecosystems (West, 2018), ingesting invertebrate pests, providing a source of food for predators, circulating matter and energy between aquatic and terrestrial environments. They have long been looked to as indicator species of ecosystem health; while they may not be the group most acutely sensitive to all pollutants, their "noted sensitivities to ultra-violet light, habitat destruction, disease, and climate change […] give a comprehensive picture of the global environment that we need to consider." (Kaplan, 2009). Potential medical benefits include insights into tissue regeneration, and potential production of pharmaceutically useful compounds.

The largest amphibians in the world are the Chinese Giant Salamander - Andrias davidianus (Blanchard, 1871) - and the Japanese Giant Salamander - Andrias japonicus (Temminck, 1836).

This update was made possible by Darrel Frost and the American Museum of Natural History, and based on a data set provided by Amphibian Species of the World. It includes 8,054 valid species (as well as 14,523 synonymous names at species and subspecies ranks). Of the valid species, 287 are found in North America. In total, the update comprises 24,069 new and/or edited names, 13,337 of which are new to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


September 30, 2019 - Marchantiophyta (Liverworts) Global Coverage Updated

Commonly known as liverworts or hepatics because of the flattened, lobed shape of some thalloid species, Marchantiophyta is a division of non-vascular land plants. A conspicuous component of many ecosystems worldwide, liverworts are distinguished from mosses by their dorsi-ventral orientation (perpendicular to sunlight), inoperculate (lidless) capsules, and unicellular rhizoids (root-like structures), among other characteristics (Glime, 2017).

The current update derives from a data set acquired from the Early Land Plants Today (ELPT) project in 2018, and was implemented with the help of experts Anders Hagborg, Lars Söderström, and Matt von Konrat. This update includes 7,466 accepted species, 629 of which are found in North America; and comprises 10,266 new and/or edited names, 8,239 of which are new to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


September 30, 2019 - Global Snakes Update Reaches Completion

Over the last few years, ITIS has undertaken a full global update of its coverage of suborder Serpentes (snakes). Progress included one family updated in 2014 (Boidae), one in 2016 (Homalopsidae), three in 2017 (Tropidophiidae, Elapidae, and Viperidae), one in 2018 (Colubridae, with subfamily Natricinae), and four previously in 2019 (Pythonidae, and three in superfamily Uropeltoidea).

This update provides global coverage for infraorder Scolecophidia, comprising five families of blind snakes (Anomalepididae, Gerrhopilidae, Leptotyphlopidae, Typhlopidae, and Xenotyphlopidae.)

Blind snakes are small, fossorial (adapted to digging) snakes that can typically grow up to a meter long. Some species lack eyes; other species' eyes may be rudimentary and appear to be pigment spots on the skin. Family Leptotyphlopidae contains what is believed to be the smallest species of snake in the world; at just four inches long, Leptotyphlops carlae Hedges, 2008 is thought to have reached the lower size boundary for snakes, as it is capable of producing only one egg and its offspring hatch at one-half the length of adults (Hedges, 2008).

In Scolecophidia there are 457 accepted species, 5 of which are found in North America. The Scolecophidia update is comprised of 1,120 new and/or edited names, 748 of which are new to ITIS.

To complete Serpentes this update also touches 11 valid/accepted species across six small families (<5 species per family): Acrochordidae (Wart Snakes), Aniliidae (False Coral Snakes), Bolyeriidae (Mauritius Snakes), Loxocemidae (Mexican Pythons), Xenopeltidae (Sunbeam Snakes), and Xenophidiidae (Spine-jawed Snakes). These families are comprised of 36 new and/or edited names, 9 of them new to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


August 28, 2019 - Insect Family Capniidae Global Coverage Added

Also known as 'small winter stoneflies' or 'snowflies', Capniidae is one of the largest families of Plecoptera, comprising 296 accepted species distributed through the Holarctic. Adults generally emerge in the winter or early spring, and are often seen walking across snow. Adult winter stoneflies possess the ability to supercool (cool to temperatures below the freezing point without crystallization and harm); nymphs survive winter temperatures by emerging in air pockets between water bodies and surface ice, where temperatures are more stable and do not reach much below freezing.

The update is largely based on the 2019 version of Plecoptera Species File database by DeWalt, Maehr, Hopkins, Nei-Becker and Stueber.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


August 28, 2019 - Four Snake Families (Anomochilidae, Cylindrophiidae, Uropeltidae, Pythonidae) Updated

Snake superfamily Uropeltoidea comprises families Anomochilidae (Dwarf Pipe Snakes), Cylindrophiidae (Asian Pipe Snakes), and Family Uropeltidae (Shield-tailed Snakes). These enigmatic families of snakes are fossorial or semi-fossorial (burrowing) and are found in Southeast Asia. The three families comprise 73 accepted species. The current update includes 142 edited species, 63 of which are new to ITIS.

Family Pythonidae includes 40 accepted species, and is found in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Australia (Barker et al., 2015). It includes the longest species of snake on earth, the reticulated python, which can reach lengths of 33 feet. Various species are popular in the pet trade. The species Python bivittatus Kuhl, 1820 started out as a popular pet species but is now threatening the Florida Everglades ecosystem.

The update is largely based on the 2019 version of Reptile Database by Uetz and Hosek.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


June 27, 2019 - Centipede Order Geophilomorpha Global Coverage Added, Completing Update of All Centipedes

Centipede order Geophilomorpha includes families Geophilidae (651 species), Gonibregmatidae (24 species), Himantariidae (63 species), Mecistocephalidae (174 species), Oryidae (47 species), Schendylidae (310 species), and Zelanophilidae (7 species); for a total of 1,276 valid species worldwide (making it the largest centipede order). Species in this order are long and slender, with 27 to 191 pairs of legs (always an odd number of pairs). Species of note include the troglomorphic Geophilus hadesi Stoev, Akkari, Komericki, Edgecombe and Bonato, 2015 and Geophilus persephones Foddai and Minelli, 1999, true troglobites that live exclusively in deep caves; a specimen of G. hadesi discovered in a vertical cave between -980 and -1,100 meters represents the world's deepest record of Chilopoda.

The update is largely based on the 2016 treatment in ChiloBase 2.0 - A World Catalogue of Centipedes (Chilopoda), with additional updates to cover up to the present, and is part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of Chilopoda. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


June 27, 2019 - Wasp Families Ampulicidae and Heterogynaidae Updated

Family Ampulicidae - known as cockroach wasps - comprises 204 accepted species worldwide, 4 of which are cited for North America. The family was initially added to ITIS in 2008; this update added the complete synonymy from Wojciech Pulawski's online 'Catalog of Sphecidae' as well as bringing the treatments up-to-date.

Wasp larvae often live as parasites on prey that eventually kill after feeding on the host little by little. Wasps of family Ampulicidae are entomophagous parasitoids, feeding their young on live cockroaches. One species in particular, the emerald cockroach wasp Ampulex compressa (Fabricius, 1781) is famous for turning its cockroach prey into a 'zombie' via injection of a stupefying neurotoxin directly into precise regions of the brain. A species newly added to ITIS with this update, Ampulex dementor Ohl, 2014, was named after the Dementors of 'Harry Potter' fame, by popular vote among 300 visitors at a 2012 museum event in Berlin.

Heterogynaidae is a small and enigmatic family of wasps, comprising only 9 species worldwide; the most recent was described in 2017.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 30, 2019 - Centipede Order Scolopendromorpha Global Coverage Added

Centipede order Scolopendromorpha includes families Scolopendridae (397 species), Cryptopidae (189 species), Scolopocryptopidae (90 species), Plutoniumidae (7 species), and Mimopidae (2 species); for a total of 685 valid species worldwide, of which 24 are found in North America. Chilopods in this order are likely the centipedes that most members of the public would recognize as a 'centipede'. Scolopendra gigantea Linnaeus, 1758 is one of the largest centipedes in the world; it can grow up to 30 cm (12 inches) long, and has been known to feed on vertebrates like bats, frogs, and rats.

The update is based on the treatment in ChiloBase 2.0 - A World Catalogue of Centipedes (Chilopoda), and is part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of Chilopoda. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 30, 2019 - Horseshoe Crabs (Xiphosura) Global Coverage Updated

Xiphosurans (Xiphosura) - horseshoe crabs, in the vernacular - have a fossil record that extends back to the Ordovician geological period (about 450 million years ago). The four species of horseshoe crabs extant worldwide are marine inhabitants and have been called 'living fossils' for apparently exhibiting a low level of diversification across phylogenetic time (Obst et al., 2012). However, recent research has found that their evolutionary history is more complex than previously thought. For example, it is now known Xiphosurids have invaded non-marine environments at least five times before subsequent extinction (Lamsdell, 2015).

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 30, 2019 - Wasp Family Sphecidae Updated

Family Sphecidae - known as mud daubers, digger wasps, and sand wasps - comprises 783 species worldwide, 135 of which are cited for North America. The family was initially added to ITIS in 2008; this update added the complete synonymy from Wojciech Pulawski's online Catalog of Sphecidae as well as bringing the treatments up-to-date. The current update added 803 new names and verified an additional 2,000+ names. Sphecoid wasp larva feed on paralyzed arthropods (e.g., spiders, grasshoppers, or caterpillars) provided by an adult; adults feed on nectar and the bodily fluids of their prey.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


April 30, 2019 - Centipede Family Henicopidae Global Coverage Added

Henicopidae includes 126 species worldwide, of which 19 are cited for North America. The type species of the genus, Lamyctes caeculus (Brölemann, 1889) is parthenogenetic (Edgecombe and Giribet, 2003).

The update is based on the treatment in ChiloBase 2.0 - A World Catalogue of Centipedes (Chilopoda), and is part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of Chilopoda. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


April 30, 2019 - Lagomorpha (rabbits, hares, and pikas) Global Coverage Updated

The order that contains rabbits, hares, and pikas comprises 99 species worldwide, 22 of which are found in North America. This update is based on the book 'Lagomorphs. Pikas, Rabbits, and Hares of the World' (Smith et al., 2018) with further updates from additional 2017-2019 publications. Videos of pikas calling to one another with loud squeaks can be viewed on YouTube.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


April 30, 2019 - Pilosa (anteaters and sloths) Global Coverage Updated

The order Pilosa Flower, 1883, meaning 'hairy', currently includes 16 species of anteaters and sloths, and is found only in the Americas. The species count is significantly larger than just a few years ago, as a 2018 taxonomic review (Miranda et al., 2018) of the silky or pygmy anteater (genus Cyclopes Gray, 1821) found that the then-recognized single species in the genus, Cyclopes didactylus (Linnaeus, 1758) should be recognized as a complex of seven species.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


April 24, 2019 - New Darwin Core Archive Download Capability from ITIS

We have added Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) download capability from the ITIS taxon standard report page. Now you can obtain a representation of ITIS data in a biodiversity informatics standard designed for sharing and integrating checklist data. The DwC-A terms used in the download can be found on the ITIS DwC-A File format page. For details on how ITIS derives the DwC-A values see the DwC-A Layout and Data Application document.

The download is obtained by clicking on the Download DwC-A button that appears on single name report pages. Your download will include all names below the selected taxon, the direct hierarchy above it up to kingdom, and all synonyms. A download that begins at an invalid/not accepted name will begin at that name's valid/accepted name or names, and provide the children and direct hierarchy of the associated valid/accepted names with synonymy.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


March 31, 2019 - Global Superfamily Corixoidea Added: Worldwide Aquatic Heteropteran Coverage Completed

Superfamily Corixoidea (which includes families Corixidae or 'water boatmen', and Micronectidae or 'pygmy water boatmen') contains 630 valid species worldwide. This update to ITIS comprises 794 newly-added names, part of a total of 1,010 new and edited taxonomic names.

ITIS now offers a full global treatment of aquatic and semi-aquatic heteropterans—collectively 'water bugs', in infraorders Gerromorpha, Nepomorpha, and Leptopodomorpha. This is the first complete global treatment of this particular group, and comprises over 5,200 valid species across the three infraorders.

Expertise and data to make this project possible were contributed by specialists Dr. Herbert Zettel of the Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria and Dr. Dan Polhemus of the Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


March 31, 2019 - ITIS Updates Worldwide Hydrometridae

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of Hydrometridae (marsh treaders, water measurers). Hydrometridae was added to ITIS in August 2016, with 144 valid extant species. The current update includes 147 valid species (13 fossil, 134 extant), of which 8 (all extant) are found in North America.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


March 31, 2019 - ITIS Updates Worldwide Mesoveliidae

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of Mesoveliidae (pond treaders, pondweed bugs). Mesoveliidae was added to ITIS in August 2016, with 53 valid extant species. The current update includes 59 valid species (6 fossil, 53 extant), of which 3 are found in North America.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


February 25, 2019 - Worldwide Lithobiidae Added

Lithobiidae, sometimes known as stone centipedes, accounts for almost 1/3 of known and named centipede species, with 1,019 accepted species distributed worldwide (320 are found in North America). Adults have 15 pairs of legs and 18 body segments. This video includes close-up and action shots of a common European centipede species, Lithobius forficatus (Linnaeus, 1758).

The update is based on the treatment in ChiloBase 2.0 - A World Catalogue of Centipedes (Chilopoda), and is part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of Chilopoda. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


February 25, 2019 - Spider family Theraphosidae Updated

Spider family Theraphosidae includes most of the large, hairy spiders known as tarantulas, with 989 species currently recognized around the globe. This update, derived from data made available by the World Spider Catalog, adds 354 new names (accepted and synonymous) to ITIS' existing treatment and brings the treatment current to 2019. Certain species of tarantula are popular as pets. While they are not very venomous (capable of delivering a bite similar to a bee sting), some New World species have urticating hairs and are capable of throwing the hairs into the eyes or nose of a potential threat!

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


December 20, 2018 - Worldwide Notonectidae Added

As part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of aquatic Heteroptera ITIS added global coverage of Notonectidae. The cosmopolitan family of predatory aquatic heteropterans are commonly called 'backswimmers'… or 'water bees' or 'water wasps', because members can deliver a painful 'bite' by stabbing with their proboscis. With long hind legs modified for swimming, the Notonectidae superficially resemble Corixidae, the water boatman; however, Notonectidae often swim upside-down and do not have modified scoop-shaped front legs as Corixidae members do. Able to fly, inhabiting ponds and freshwater pools, and attracted to light, Notonectidae often invade swimming pools and may become a nuisance. Notonectidae comprises 405 species, 37 of which are found in North America. This data load added 502 new names to ITIS.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


December 20, 2018 - ITIS Updates Worldwide Gerridae, Hebridae, and Naucoridae

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of Gerridae, Hebridae, and Naucoridae. Gerridae was added to ITIS in January 2018, and this update adds 9 species to the 808 extant species recognized in January. Hebridae and Naucoridae were add to ITIS in July 2017. This update adds 1 species to the 233 extant species of Hebridae recognized in 2017, and 4 species to the 398 extant species of Naucoridae.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


November 29, 2018 - ITIS Updates Worldwide Veliidae

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of Veliidae (riffle bugs, and broad-shouldered water striders). Veliidae was added to ITIS in October 2016, with 1,152 valid extant species. The current update includes 1,164 valid extant species, of which 37 are found in North America, and 9 fossil species.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


November 29, 2018 - ITIS Updates Worldwide Leptopodomorpha

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of infraorder Leptopodomorpha. Leptopodomorpha was added to ITIS in July 2016, with 358 valid species. The current update includes 349 valid extant species, and 17 fossil species.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


November 29, 2018 - Worldwide Thaumastocoridae Added

The heteropteran family Thaumastocoridae includes the sap-sucking Bronze Bug, Thaumastocoris peregrinus D. L. Carpintero and Dellapé, 2006. It is native to Australia, but is a globally spreading species that specializes on Eucalpytus trees. It was found in Los Angeles County in 2016, but may not be established yet.

There are 31 extant species worldwide, 1 of which are found in North America. This update comprises 59 new and edited names, of which 40 names are new to ITIS.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


November 29, 2018 - ITIS Updates Mustelids of the World

ITIS has updated the complete global dataset of Mustelidae, the family of carnivorous mammals that includes weasels, badgers, otters, martens, and wolverines, among other taxa. Within this family are several species of fierce midguild predators with conspicuously colored facial masks, such as the European Badger, Marbled Polecat, and Wolverine. The masks likely serve as a warning to deter larger carnivorous predators. Newman et al. noted that masks are confined to terrestrial mammals under predation risk, who do not hunt by stealth-and-chase, and do not escape predators by climbing trees, using burrows, or diving into water.

Mustelidae comprises 63 species, 13 of which are found in North America with almost 350 subspecies. This data load added 548 new names to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


October 29, 2018 - Worldwide Nepidae and Pleidae Added

As part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of aquatic Heteroptera ITIS added global coverage of Nepidae and Pleidae. Nepidae are commonly called 'waterscorpions' because members bear a caudal breathing tube or siphon, used to breathe while under water, as well as raptorial forelegs. Nepidae are found on all continents except Antarctica; of the 262 extant species, 14 are found in North America. This update adds 370 new names to ITIS.

Pleidae, or 'pygmy backswimmers', are small (less than 3mm long) aquatic bugs with a distinctly convex shape. There are 35 extant species worldwide, 6 of which are found in North America. This update comprises 77 new and edited names, of which 35 names are new to ITIS.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


October 29, 2018 - ITIS Updates Worldwide Coreidae

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of the insect family Coreidae (leaf-footed bugs). ITIS has maintained Coreidae since 2015 when the global species dataset of 2,480 valid species were added or updated. This revision includes 107 names new to ITIS, brings the currency of the group to this year, and includes 2,564 Coreidae accepted species worldwide with 100 found in North America.

Coreidae includes the destructive American pest Anasa tristis (De Geer, 1773), commonly known as the squash bug. It attacks cucurbits, especially squash and pumpkin, by secreting highly toxic saliva into the plant.

Maintenance of the Coreidae global species dataset has been managed by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


September 26, 2018 - Scolytinae (bark beetles, ambrosia beetles) of North America Added

Scolytinae includes two of the most destructive invasive pests in ornamental plant nurseries: the granulate ambrosia beetle, Xylosandrus crassiusculus (Motschulsky, 1866), and the black stem borer, Xylosandrus germanus (Blandford, 1894). These insects are generalists; Xylosandrus germanus has been reported to infest over 200 species of plants in 52 families. Infestations are often marked by 'toothpicks': columns of chewed wood and sap that extrude behind a beetle as it bores into a tree.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. The current data load covers North America and comprises 632 accepted species, 555 of which are cited for North America; the load adds 265 new TSNs to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


August 30, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Colubroid Snakes Added

About half of all extant snake species are considered to be colubrids, and members of the family Colubridae can be found on every continent except Antarctica. In the past, the category of 'colubroids' was used broadly, even as a 'wastebin taxon', to classify species that did not clearly fall under other more well-defined families. The current data load includes Colubridae and families previously included within it: Lamprophiidae, Paretidae, and Xenodermidae. Under its current monophyletic circumscription, the family Colubridae consists of eight subfamilies, including Natricinae. Most colubrids are not venomous to humans; those that are venomous are rear-fanged, rather than front-fanged like the vipers and elapids. Research into the properties of colubrid venom, in terms of both potential harm and biomedical properties, is ongoing.

The current data load adds 3,917 new (without TSNs) names to ITIS, and is comprised of 2,254 valid species of which 128 are cited for North America.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


July 30, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Class Holothuroidea Added

Commonly known as sea cucumbers, echinoderm class Holothuroidea has cosmopolitan marine distribution and comprises over 1,700 accepted species. Sea cucumbers offer the ecosystem service of bioturbation, aerating the ocean floor in much the same way earthworms do terrestrial soil. Various species of crustacean, mollusks, and even fish live on, or in, sea cucumbers in symbiotic relationships. Sea cucumbers are eaten by humans in various cultures, especially in east and southeast Asia; edible sea cucumbers are known as trepan (Indonesian), bêche-de-mer (French), bicho do mar (Portuguese), namako (Japanese), and loli (Hawaiian), among other names. Some species are subject to illegal food trafficking, and steps have been taken to conserve them. The Brown Sea Cucumber, Isostichopus fuscus (Ludwig, 1875) was added to CITES Appendix III in 2003 by Ecuador to help thwart illegal trafficking of the high-value catch.

Gustav Paulay, Curator of Marine Malacology, University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History, provided ITIS with source data from the World Register of Marine Species and gave guidance on taxonomic and nomenclatural issues. The current data load includes 1,709 accepted species, with 3,515 names newly added to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


June 29, 2018 - Worldwide Treatments of Melittidae and Stenotritidae (Bee Families) Updated

Stenotritidae are the smallest family of bees, comprising 21 species in two genera; all are restricted to Australia. This complete treatment of Stenotritidae adds 19 new names to ITIS. Melittidae, the second-smallest bee family, comprises 207 species, of which 31 are found in North America. Melittidae includes a high proportion of host-plant specialist, or 'oligolectic', species. Some practice oil-collecting (Michez et al. 2009); that is, using specialized finely-branched hairs on the fore- and mid-legs to take oils from flowers to use in nest-building and/or larval food.

The update is based upon the treatment in the Discover Life Bee Species Guide and World Checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila) by Ascher and Pickering. John S. Ascher, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore provided taxonomic and nomenclatural guidance, and Denis Michez, PhD, reviewed the Melittidae update which added 228 new names to ITIS [subsequent to the 2007 World Bee Checklist] and edited an additional 236.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


June 29, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Belostomatidae Added

Belostomatids, or 'giant water bugs', are among the largest insects in the world—some members of the genus Lethocerus can grow to over 12 cm long (nearly 5 inches). These fierce predators prey on aquatic invertebrates, mollusks, crustaceans, and fish (earning them the vernacular 'fish killers'), and have been known to kill and eat amphibians and reptiles. They occasionally inflict their painful venomous bite on humans, earning them the name 'toe biters'. Also called 'electric light bugs' for their attraction to bright lights at night, some species are a delicacy in parts of south and southeast Asia. ITIS' global update of Belostomatidae comprises 145 species, of which 23 are cited for North America; the update adds 218 new accepted and synonymous names to ITIS.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


June 29, 2018 - Worldwide Treatments of Caprimulgiformes, Nyctibiiformes, and Steatornithiformes Updated

The phylogeny of Strisores (a clade encompassing hummingbirds, swifts, owlet-nightjars, frogmouths, nightjars, potoos, and the oilbird) is contentious. While the IOC (version 8.2, 2018) "[Proposes] to merge Apodiformes, including owlet-nightjars as well as swifts and hummingbirds, with the Caprimulgiform nightbirds to define a spectacular basal adaptive radiation of Neoaves", in this update ITIS has followed Zoonomen (2018) in recognizing potoos and the oilbird at order rank, Nyctibiiformes and Steatornithiformes respectively. This approach was argued and adopted by the South American Classification Committee by Van Remsen (February, 2016) in Proposal 703.

The three orders in this update include 122 species worldwide, 10 of which are found in North America. This update comprises 585 edited names, 218 of which are new to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 25, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Andrenidae (bee family) Updated

Commonly known as mining bees, due to their ground-nesting habit, family Andrenidae is common and diverse in North America. Over 1,200 valid species are found in the US and Canada [1,234 are cited for North America in this ITIS treatment], 83% of which are in either genus Andrena or Perdita. Species in the genus Perdita, are diminutive in size (2-10 mm) and tend to have very specific or 'oligolectic' foraging requirements - consuming the pollen from only one or a few closely related species of plants. This worldwide update for ITIS encompasses 3,010 valid species worldwide.

The update is based upon the treatment in the Discover Life Bee Species Guide and World Checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila) by Ascher and Pickering. John S. Ascher, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore provided taxonomic and nomenclatural guidance, and Sébastien Patiny, PhD, and Kelli Ramos, PhD, reviewed of subfamily Panurginae. Altogether, the update comprises 5,729 new or edited names, including synonyms, 2,670 of which are newly-added to ITIS [subsequent to the 2007 World Bee Checklist].

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


May 25, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Reduviidae Added

Reduviidae, known by the vernaculars 'assassin bugs,' 'ambush bugs,' or 'thread-legged bugs,' is the second-most numerous and morphologically diverse family of predatory bugs. Particularly infamous members are the 'kissing bugs' of subfamily Triatominae; they feed on vertebrate blood and may transmit Chagas disease to humans. This cosmopolitan family comprises 7,449 species in ITIS, 197 of which are cited for North America. This update adds 9,035 TSNs to ITIS. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


February 28, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Elmidae and Protelmidae Added

The aquatic 'riffle beetles' of families Elmidae and Protelmidae usually live in cool rapid streams, where they feed on decayed plants and algae. Protelmidae was formerly considered as a tribe of Elmidae, and was recently elevated to full family rank. These families include 1540 species worldwide, 105 of which are found in North America. The update comprises 1926 edited names, 1631 of which are new to ITIS. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


January 29, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Gerridae Added

Known as water striders or pond skaters, insects in the family Gerridae are able to walk on the surface of ponds, streams, rivers or even saltwater; because of their widely- and evenly- distributed weight and specially adapted legs — having fine hydrophobic (water-repellent) hairs on the underside of their tarsi (feet) — water surface tension supports them. This family includes 808 extant species and 18 fossil species, 52 of which are found in North America. The update comprises 1,224 edited names, 1,119 of which are new to ITIS

With the addition of family Gerridae, ITIS now contains complete and current global coverage for the heteropteran infraorder Gerromorpha. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, with guidance and input from expert Dan Polhemus.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


January 29, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Anthocerotophyta (Hornworts) Added

Hornworts (Anthocerotophyta) are a nonvascular order of plants characterized by their elongated horn-like sporophyte and thalloid gametophyte body. ITIS' treatment is adapted from Söderström et al. 2016, the first-ever worldwide checklist for liverworts (Marchantiophyta) and hornworts. The update comprises 215 valid species; 449 edited names, 285 of which are new to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


January 29, 2018 - ITIS Updates Primates of the World

This third annual update to ITIS' worldwide treatment of primates (see February 8, 2016 and April 1, 2017) includes 13 newly-added names or name combinations, part of a total 155 edited names. The ITIS Primate treatment now includes 508 species, of which three (including humans) are cited for North America. Notably, the current update includes the Tapanuli Orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis Nurcahyo, Meijaard, Nowak, Fredriksson and Groves in Nater et al., 2017), the first new great ape species described since 1929. The current population of Tapanuli Orangutans is estimated to be fewer than 800 individuals. Anthony Rylands, of Conservation International and the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group, provided taxonomic and nomenclatural guidance.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


January 29, 2018 - ITIS Updates Strigiformes (Owls) of the World

Order Strigiformes is one of the oldest groups of land birds, with lineages extending back 70-80 million years. Owls are found in every region of the world, with the exception of Antarctica. The order comprises 243 valid species, of which 22 are cited for North America. This update contains 1,380 edited names, 540 of which are new to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov .


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