Thursday 8th March 2012

ASTONISHING INSECT DISCOVERIES – AND AN APPEAL!

Today has been (and continues to be!) a day of personal insect-related discoveries! This entry is an illustration of just how diverse my great grandfather George Charles Champion’s insect knowledge was – we tend to think of him as concentrating on Coleoptera (beetles) and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), but in fact he worked hard on and made major contributions to current knowledge of a very wide range of insect orders. It has now come to my attention that not only do quite a large number of insect species bear his name in the specific part of their scientific names, such as Drucina championi, Caio championi and Nectarinella championi, but there is even an entire genus named after him: Championica.

My Guatemalan entomologist friend Jose Monzon sent me a picture of an Orthopteran (grasshopper) which he photographed near Izabal, in Guatemala – it is of an as yet unidentified member of that very genus Championica, named after my great grandfather – and a fine-looking creature it is!

Championica sp

The citation from the Biologia Centrali-Americana, Insecta, Orthoptera, Vol. 1 (1893-1899) by Henri de Saussure et al., Page 405, reads:

Championica, gen. nov.

Dedicated to Mr. G. C. Champion, who has collected a large amount of material for this work.

And now, this afternoon, I find yet more incredible information! Jose has just e-mailed me to say that there is a genus of weevils, described in 1956 by Kuschel, named Championius. There are three species, all of which are very hard to find, and all inhabiting cloud forest in Guatemala! Very little is known of them and there are no references.

Another amazing, and touching piece of information is that Canadian entomologist Bob Anderson has just described a new species of weevil from the Cerro Zunil, one of my great grandfather’s top collecting localities, and has named it Theognete championi, in honour of the original author of the genus, none other than G C Champion!

Zootaxa 2458: 1–127 (14 May 2010) 61 plates; 12 references
Accepted: 6 Feb. 2010
A taxonomic monograph of the Middle American leaf-litter inhabiting
weevil genus Theognete Champion (Coleoptera: Curculionidae; Molytinae;
Lymantini)
ROBERT S. ANDERSON (Canada)

And finally, Jose sent me this picture of a truly amazing, and as yet un-named Leaf-Grasshopper. Thus far he has only found two examples, and it is of great importance to find more. It is very large, and even has a transparent reflective mark that looks like a drop of water on a genuine leaf.

The Leaf-Grasshopper

APPEAL!!

Jose Monzon has a considerable number of new, undescribed species that require further research and investigation, both in the lab and in the field…but he needs funds!!! If anyone reading this can suggest sources of funding for this vital work, please contact me. The more that is known about these truly astounding creatures, the more incentive there will be to conserve their endangered forest habitats. Thank you.

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