Brachyplatys subaeneus: an Asian Plataspidae spreading in America
Brachyplatys subaeneus (Hemiptera: Plataspidae – black bean bug) originates from Asia where it is considered to be a minor pest, particularly in legume crops (Fabaceae). This insect has a clear preference for Fabaceae, but it has also been reported on other plant families (e.g. Arecaceae, Asteraceae, Cannabaceae, Convolvulaceae, Solanaceae, Poaceae - see https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/BRAPSU/hosts). B. subaeneus is a sap feeder, nymphs and adults tend to aggregate on stems or on petioles under leaves. Pictures can be viewed on the Internet: http://dx.doi.org/10.3391/bir.2016.5.1.02
In the 2010s, its presence started to be recorded in several countries in the Americas. It can be recalled that another Asian Plataspidae, Megacopta cribraria (formerly EPPO Alert List – see EPPO RS 2014/161) has been introduced in North America (i.e. USA) where it rapidly spread. B. subaeneus was first found in Panama in 2012 where it was initially identified as B. vahlii, but later studies confirmed its identity as B. subaeneus. The insect was first detected on Cajanus cajan (Fabaceae, pigeon pea) and Bactris gasipaes (Arecaeae, peach palm) in a private garden in Vacamonte (Panama Oeste province). Subsequent observations concluded that it is now common and frequently abundant near the Panama Canal. In 2018, B. subaeneus was observed in the Dominican Republic on peas (Pisum sp.). In April 2019, it was found in Costa Rica (Guanacaste province) on several Fabaceae (C. cajan, Mucuna pruriens, Gliricidia sepium). In March 2019, it was found in Ecuador near Guayaquil, mainly on C. cajan crops, but also on M. pruriens and Zea mays. In Guadeloupe, the first specimens of B. subaeneus were reported in July 2020 on C. cajan in the municipality of Petit-Bourg. In August 2020, B. subaeneus was noticed on sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera, Ephedraceae) near Miami Beach, Florida (US) by a member of the public. The identity of the pest was confirmed in September 2020, and more specimens were detected on Canavalia rosea (Fabaceae) which appeared to be the preferred host in the area of Miami Beach.
The currently known world distribution of B. subaeneus is as follows:
North America: USA (Florida).
Central America and the Caribbean: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Panama.
Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China (Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hong Kong, Macau, Xizhang, Yunnan), India (Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Odisha, Uttarakhand, West Bengal), Indonesia (Java, Maluku, Sulawesi, Sumatra), Japan (Ryukyu Archipelago), Malaysia (Sabah, West), Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam.
It is noted that, as in its native area B. subaeneus is restricted to humid tropical and subtropical areas, its expansion to temperate North America seems unlikely. However, it is considered that this insect has the potential to become a widely distributed and significant pest of legume crops in tropical and subtropical parts of Central and South America. Regarding the EPPO region, further studies would be needed to evaluate its potential of establishment, but it seems that B. subaeneus is more adapted to humid tropical and subtropical climates than to temperate and Mediterranean climates.
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