Sternorrhyncha research at the SA National Collection of Insects

Taxonomy of South African Hemiptera, with emphasis on the suborder Sternorrhyncha, which is of agricultural importance. Curatorial responsibilities for other Hemiptera cover the Heteroptera (aquatic groups and Cimicomorpha).

Biosystematics of aphids (Aphidoidea), whiteflies (Aleyrodidae) and scale insects (Coccoidea)

Research activities (Recently completed and published projects)

  • A key to the 50 South African mealybug genera (Pseudococcidae)

  • A contribution to knowledge of the aphid fauna of Namibia

  • Descriptions and a phylogenetic study of several new South African species of flat grass scales (Aclerdidae), in collaboration with C.J. Hodgson (National Museum of Wales, Cardiff)


Current projects

  • Editorial work on a computer database that has been compiled of collecting information associated with all Sternorrhyncha specimens deposited in the SANC (7600 accessions).

  • A faunistic survey of the local whiteflies (Aleyrodidae) of South Africa is under way, and an identification key to the species known so far from the country has been drafted.


The Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha collection

Within the Hemiptera, specialisation at the SANC has included taxonomic studies of South African aphids, psyllids, scale insects and mealybugs. As a result, the collections of these groups are very representative of the local fauna, with material of practically all species that occur here. The majority of the samples have been studied and identified to species level, prepared on permanent slide mounts, or preserved on pins in the case of Psyllidae. The collections are well organised, fully labelled, and are an outstanding reference source for the South African fauna of these groups.

The aphid slide collection comprises 860 samples mounted on about 5000 microscope slides. The spirit collection has approximately 1800 aphid colony samples, and specimens from almost half of these are already mounted on slides.

The Coccoidea collection has well over 20 000 slide-mounts of specimens from nearly 7000 samples. It contains much type material of previous workers on the local fauna, viz. Y. Ben-Dov, C.K. Brain, G. de Lotto and J. Munting.

The Psyllidae collection has 630 accessions, comprising about 1000 pinned specimens and 750 microscope slide mounts. Much of the material was collected and studied by A.L. Capener, and numerous type specimens are present.

The whitefly collection is currently receiving much attention and is growing rapidly. The South African Aleyrodidae have hardly been studied at all until now. About 80 samples of whiteflies have recently accumulated in the SANC, approximately 200 slide-mounts have been made from these and are being studied and identified in an endeavour to survey and document the local fauna, which is poorly known.

An important accessory to the Sternorrhyncha collection is the computer database. All specimen data has been entered into the database, a total of 7600 records. The database is now being edited and adapted to enable searching of the information that it contains by any category desired. This will make all specimen data associated with the Sternorrhyncha collection rapidly accessible.

Selected publications

MILLAR, I.M. 1985. Psylloidea, Aleyrodoidea and Aphidoidea. pp. 164 - 168 in: Scholtz, C.H. & Holm, E. (Eds). Insects of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban, 502 pp.

MILLAR, I.M. & DÜRR, H.J.R. 1985. A list and host plant index of the aphids (Homoptera: Aphidoidea) of South Africa. Entomology Memoir Department of Agriculture and Water Supply Republic of South Africa No. 62: 1-38.

MILLAR, I.M. 1990. The aphids (Homoptera: Aphidoidea) of South Africa: An identification guide. Entomology Memoir Department of Agricultural Development Republic of South Africa No. 78: 1-105.

MILLAR, I.M. 1994. A Catalogue of the Aphids (Homoptera: Aphidoidea) of Sub-Saharan Africa. Plant Protection Research Institute Handbook no. 4, 130 pp.

MILLAR, I.M. 2000. Aphididae (Hemiptera: Aphidoidea). p. 135 - 137 in: Kirk-Spriggs, A.H. & Marais, E. (eds.). Dâures - Biodiversity of the Brandberg Massif, Namibia. Cimbebasia Memoir 9: 389 pp.

MILLAR, I.M. 2002. Mealybug genera (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) of South Africa: identification and review. African Entomology 10: 185 - 233.

HODGSON, C.J. & MILLAR, I.M. 2002. A new subfamily, two new genera and three new species of Aclerdidae (Hemiptera: Coccoidea) from southern Africa, with a phylogenetic analysis of relationships. Systematic Entomology 27: 469 - 517.​