For those who are bug hunting in North America east of the Mississippi River, here is what you need to know about members of the genus Zelus you'll encounter (Hart, 1986).
Zelus tetracanthus. Males 10.5-14.5 mm. Females 13.5-16.5 mm. Range: Southern Canada, United States, Central and South America.
- Quite variable in size, markings, and color
- Key trait: the rear edge of the pronotal disc has two "large tuberculate processes"
Zelus luridus. Males 12.5-15.5 mm. Females 14-18 mm. Range: southern Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, every eastern U.S. state, west to North Dakota and Arizona, south to Vera Cruz and Oaxaca.
- The most commonly encountered Zelus species
- Key trait: humeral angles each have a process that varies from a tubercule to a spine
- Females are larger, lighter in color, and have more impressive (and less blunt) processes on the humeral angles
- In females especially, the processes vary in size, angle, and darkness of color
- More information on our Zelus luridus page
Zelus cervicalis. Male 10.0 - 13.5 mm. Females 13.5 - 15.5 mm. Range: Southeastern United States, Arizona, Mexico, Central America, Colombia.
- Similar to Zelus renardii (but Z. renardii is not found east of Louisiana)
- Within areas where it is found, Zelus cervicalis has a larger length:width ratio than any other Zelus: 5.5:1
Zelus longipes. Male 14 - 19 mm. Females 15.5 - 20.5. Range: Southeastern United States, southwest Arizona, southern California, Mexico, Caribbean, Central America, most of South America.
- Usually orange-brown in color, pubescent, no spines or similar processes, pronotal disc elevated.
- So variable that like Z. luridus, variants have mistakenly been described as new species.
Note that a number of works including Slater and Baranowski How to Know the True Bugs (1978) and Arnett, Insects of North America, list Zelus exsanguis as a commonly found species. For a special note about this name, see our Zelus luridus page.
American Insects site