Michael Ferro, collection manager at the Clemson University Arthropod Collection, recently published an article that describes 14 new beetle species, all of which belong to the genus Sonoma. With these additions, the genus now has 57 species, 40 from western North America and 17 from the eastern U.S.
These beetles, which belong to the family Staphylinidae and the subfamily Pselaphinae, are small predators that are mainly found in leaf litter and rotten wood.
The discoveries were made after the author examined museum specimens from 18 different institutions. As is the case with the identification of many insects, the only reliable way to identify Sonoma species is to examine the genitalia. Dr. Ferro did just that, and he was good enough to create a poster — “a cheat sheet to help with ID,” as he calls it — that depicts the genitalia of all 57 species.
Some of the new species were named after famous people, including Sonoma colberti (named after Stephen Colbert), Sonoma rossellinae (named after the Italian actress Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini), Sonoma stewarti (named after Jon Stewart), and Sonoma twaini (named after Mark Twain).
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