The Rio Grande Valley is one of the premere biodiversity
hotspots of the United States. Some of the first beetles described from
the valley were collected during U.S.-Mexico boundary surveys in the
1850s (see: LeConte 1853-1859)
Later, even before the first railroad reached Brownsville in 1904, prominent entomologists such as Herbert Spencer Barber, Ottomar Dietz, Henry Guernsey Hubbard, Charles Frederick August Schaeffer, Eugene Amandus Schwarz, Francis Huntington Snow, Charles Henry Tyler Townsend, Henry Frederick Wickham
were flocking to the valley. While Barber, Hubbard, Schwarz, Townsend, and Wickham were sent by the USDA to study the emerging threat of the boll weevil (which had recently entered Texas near Brownsville from Mexico), Charles Schaeffer's multiple expeditions to south Texas were funded by his employer, the Museum of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. Esperanza Ranch and San Tomas
(now the Sabal Palm Sanctuary) were among Schaeffer's favorite Brownsville-area collecting
localities. Schaeffer described over 100 new beetle species in 26 families from Cameron County. His surveys constitute a turn-of-the-20th Century baseline for the Lower Rio Grande beetle fauna
which has been added to by the likes of Hovore et al.
(1987), Carlow (1997), Riley & Wolfe (2003) and King (2015).
King, with the assistance of Ed Riley, Brian Raber, Dan Heffern
and Mike Quinn among others, conducted the most through beetle survey
ever of the RGV. King et al. collected and indentified 977 species of
beetles in 69
from five sites in Hidalgo and Cameron Counties from 2008 to 2010. Of
species collected, 31 are
thought to be new to science.
The following beetle species have not been recorded outside of Starr, Hidago and Cameron counties in the US, with the exception of a few which have also been recorded in CA, AZ, NM, or FL.
LeConte J.L. 1853. Descriptions of some new Coleoptera from Texas, chiefly collected by the Mexican Boundary Commission. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 6: 439-448.
LeConte J.L. 1854. Notice of some coleopterous insects, from the collections of the Mexican Boundary Commission. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 7: 79-85.
LeConte J.L. 1854. Descriptions of new Coleoptera collected by Thos. H. Webb, M.D., in the years 1850-51 and 52, while secretary to the U.S. and Mexico Boundary Commission. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 7: 220-225.
J.L. 1858. Catalogue of Coleoptera of the regions adjacent to the
boundary line between the United States and Mexico. Journal of the
Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (Series 2) 4: 9-42.
LeConte J.L. 1858. Descriptions of new species of Coleoptera, chiefly collected by the United States and Mexican Boundary Commission, under Major W.H.Emory, U.S.A. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 10: 59-89.
LeConte, J.L. 1859. Descriptions of some genera and species of Coleoptera from the vicinity of the southern boundary of the United States of America. Arcana Nat., 1: 121-128, pls. 12, 13.
Schwarz, E.A. 1896. Semi-tropical Texas. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 4: 1-3.
H.F. 1897. The Coleoptera of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. I. Bulletin
from the Laboratories of Natural History of the State University of
Iowa 4 [1896-98]: 96-115.
Wickham, H.F. 1898. Recollections of old collecting grounds, II, the lower Rio Grande valley. Entomological News 9: 22-24.
Linell, M.L. 1896. Descriptions of new species of North American Coleoptera in the families Cerambycidae and Scarabaeidae. Proceedings of the United States National Museum, 19(1113): 393-401.
Linell, M.L. 1897. New genera and species of North American Curculionidae. Journal New York Entomological Society 5(2): 49-56.
Wickham, H.F. 1898. Recollections of old collecting grounds, III, the lower Rio Grande valley (cont.). Entomological News 9: 39-41.
Linell, M.L. 1898. New species of Coleoptera of the family Chrysomelidae, with a short review of the tribe Chlamydini. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 20(1133): 473-485 .
Linell, M. 1901. Descriptions of some new species of North American heteromerous Coleoptera. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 4: 180–186.
Townsend, C.H.T. 1902. Contribution to a knowledge of the coleopterous fauna of the lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas and Tamaulipas, the biological notes and special reference to geological distribution. Transactions of the Texas Academy of Science 5: 49-101.
Schaeffer, C. 1905. Some additional new genera and species of Coleoptera found within the limit of the United States. Science Bulletin of the Museum of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, 1(7): 141-179.
Snow, F.H. 1906. Some results of the University of Kansas entomological expeditions to Galveston and Brownsville, Tex., in 1904 and 1905. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 20(1) : 136-154.
Schaeffer, C. 1906. On new and known genera and species of the family Chrysomelidae. Brooklyn Institute Museum Science Bulletin 1(9): 221-253.
Schaeffer, C. 1907. New Bruchidae with notes on known species and list of species known to occur at Brownsville, Texas, and in the Huachuca Mountains, Arizona. Museum of Brooklyn's Institute for Arts and Sciences, Science Bulletin 1(10): 291-306.
Schaeffer, C. 1908. List of the longicorn Coleoptera collected on the museum expeditions to Brownsville, Texas, and the Huachuca Mts., Arizona, with descriptions of new genera and species and notes on known species. The Museum of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences Science Bulletin 1(12): 325-352.
Linsley, E.G. & J.O. Martin. 1933. Notes on some longicorns from subtropical Texas. Entomological News, 44: 178-183.
Knull, J.N. 1935. Four new Texas Coleoptera (Buprestidae and Cerambycidae). Entomological News, 46(4): 96-99.
Knull, J.N. 1938. Four new Coleoptera (Elateridae and Buprestidae). Entomological News 49: 19-22.
Vogt, G.B. 1949a. Five new species of Buprestidae from southern
Texas (Coleoptera). Annals of the Entomological Society of America
Vogt, G.B. 1949b. A biologically annotated list of the Buprestidae of
the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Annals of the Entomological Society
of America 42(2): 191-202.
Vogt, G.B. 1949c. Notes on Cerambycidae from the Lower Rio Grande
Valley, Texas. Pan-Pacific Entomologist 25(3): 137-144.
Vogt, G.B. 1949c. Notes on Cerambycidae from the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Pan-Pacific Entomologist 25(4): 175-184.
Knull, J.N. 1952. A new species of Xenorhipis from Texas (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Entomological News 63: 177-178.
Knull, J. N. 1954. Five new North American species of Buprestidae (Coleoptera). Ohio Journal of Science 54:27–30.
Knull, J.N. 1966. Two new species of Acmaeodera from southeastern Texas (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). The Ohio Journal of Science 66: 332-334.
Bellamy, C.L. 1991. Notes on the G. B. Vogt collection, part I: south Texas (Coleoptera and Hemiptera). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 93(3): 733-736.
Carlow, T.A. 1997. A faunal survey and zoogeographic analysis of the Curculionidae (Coleoptera) (excluding Anthribidae, Platypodinae, and Scolytinae) of the lower Rio Grande valley of Texas. Unpublished thesis, Texas A&M University, College Station. xi + 274.
MacRae, T.C., and G.H. Nelson. 2003. Distributional and biological notes on Buprestidae (Coleoptera) in North and Central America and the West Indies, with validation of one species. The Coleopterists Bulletin, 57(1): 57–70.
Burke, H.R. 2004. Notable weevil specialists of the past. Curculio, 49: 5-7.MacRae, T.C. 2006. Distributional and biological notes on North American Buprestidae (Coleoptera), with comments on variation in Anthaxia (Haplanthaxia) viridicornis (Say) and A. (H.) viridfrons Gory. The Pan-Pacific Entomologist, 82(2): 166–199.
MacRae, T.C. and M.E. Rice. 2007. Biological and distributional observations on North American Cerambycidae (Coleoptera). The Coleopterists Bulletin 61(2): 227-263.
Nelson, G.H., G.C. Walters, Jr., R.D. Haines and C.L. Bellamy. 2008. A catalog and bibliography of the Buprestoidea of America north of Mexico. The Coleopterists Society, Special Publication No. 4, pp. iv + 1-274.
Riley E.G., and J.E. King. 2008-2009. Element record datasheets submitted to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Wildlife Division, Austin.
Smith-Rodgers, S. 2010. Beetle Mania. Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine. June.
Bousquet, Y. 2012. Catalogue of Geadephaga (Coleoptera, Adephaga) of America, north of Mexico. ZooKeys 245: 1–1722.
Atkinson, T.H., and E.G. Riley. 2013. Atlas and Checklist of the bark and ambrosia beetles of Texas and Oklahoma (Curculionidae: Scolytinae and Platypodinae). Insecta Mundi 292: 1-46.
King, J.E. 2015. Beetle biodiversity response to vegetation restoration of mid-valley riparian woodland in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas. Unpublished Thesis, Texas A&M University, College Station. viii + 218 pp.
There are over 70 spider species recorded in the U.S. only in Starr,
Hidalgo, and or Cameron Counties. (Allen Dean, pers. comm., 2019)
The first image, Neotama mexicana (O. Pickard-Cambridge) is perhaps the best known RGV specialty spiders:
Dean, D.A. 2016. Catalogue of Texas spiders. ZooKeys 570: 1–703.
Fourteen species of odonates have only been recorded in the LRGV (many others are only expected from the LRGV but there are one or two vagrant records from elsewhere). (Martin Reid, pers. comm. 2019)
Most of these species are such new U.S. records that they
only have species maps, but no species profiles on the seminal Odonata Central website.
Checklist of the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the LRGV
Dragonfly Days, Field Trip Photos from the Valley Nature Center sponsered event:
Abbott, J.C. 2005. Dragonflies and damselflies of Texas and the south-central United States: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 360 pp.
Abbott, J.C. 2015. Damselflies of Texas A Field Guide. University of Texas Press, Austin. 292 pgs.
Abbott, J.C. 2015. Dragonflies of Texas A Field Guide. University of Texas Press, Austin. 466 pgs.
Behrstock, R.A., T.L. Eubanks and P. Miliotis. 1999. Bar-sided Darner (Gynacantha mexicana) Selys, 1868 (Odonata: Aeshnidae), A New Dragonfly for the U.S. Argia 11(2): 12-14. (At Santa Ana NWR)
Behrstock, R.A., J.S. Rose, and J.C. Abbott. 2007. First Texas record and second U.S. occurrence of the Pale-green Darner, Triacanthagyna septima (Selys in Sagra, 1857) (Odonata: Aeshnidae). Argia (4): 28-29. (At Anzalduas County Park)
Behrstock, R.A., J.S. Rose and J.C. Abbott. First Texas record and second U.S. occurrence of the Pale-green Darner, Triacanthagyna septima
(Selys in Sagra, 1857) (Odonata: Aeshnidae). in Abbott, J.C. (ed).
2007. Odonata Survey of Texas, vol. 2. Odonata Survey of Texas. (Ditto)
Grasshoppers and katydids not found north of the Rio Grande Valley:
Capinera, J.L., R.D. Scott, and T.J. Walker. 2005. Field guide to grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets of the United States. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 280 pp.
Caudell, A.N. 1904. Orthoptera from southwestern Texas: collected by the Museum Expedition of 1903, 1904. Brooklyn Inst. Arts and Sci., Science Bull., 1(4): 105-116.
Helfer, J.R. 1953, 1987. How to know the grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, and their allies. Dover Publications, New York. 353 pp.
The following species are not found north of the Rio Grande Valley.
The first image, of a Flag-footed bug, is one of the more
spectacular North American insects. A colony of this coreid can be
found at Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, TX
H.G. 1906. Hemiptera from southwestern Texas. Science Bulletin of the
Museum of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, 1(9): 255-289.
Bartlett, C.R., L.B. O’Brien, and S.W. Wilson. 2014. A review of the planthoppers (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea) of the United States. Memoirs of the American Entomological Society 50: 1-287.
Snow, F.H. 1906. Some results of the University of Kansas entomological expeditions to Galveston and Brownsville, Tex., in 1904 and 1905. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 20 (1) : 136-154.
Torre-Bueno, J.R. de la. 1912. Records of Heteroptera from Brownsville, Texas (Hemip.). Entomological News 23: 120-122.
Aerial photograph of southern Hidalgo County where most recent new U.S. butterfly records have been recorded.
Top 10 Butterfly Hotspot States or Regions in the U.S.
Map of Rio Grande Valley Butterfly Trail
Checklist of 163 Specialty Butterflies Occurring in Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas - Gil Quintanilla, 2009
Checklist of 91 Unique Butterflies Occurring in Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas - Gil Quintanilla, 2009
Annotated Checklist of the Butterflies of Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and Vicinity - Mike Rickard & Bill McGuire, 1974
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Butterfly Checklist - Ed Knudson and Mike Quinn, 2011
14 New U.S. Records for Cameron and Hidalgo Counties in 1993
Six New U.S. Butterflies Records Fall 2004 - Why so many fall 2004 new U.S. butterfly records in south Texas?
New U.S. Butterfly Records from the Rio Grande Valley (1872-2013) - Mike Quinn
Freeman, H.A. 1945. A new species of Lerodea from Texas (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae). Entomological News 56(8): 203-205, figure 1.
Freeman, H.A. 1946. Two new species of skippers from North and Central America. Entomological News 57(8): 185-187.
Freeman, H.A. 1959. Butterfly collecting in Texas and New Mexico. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 13(2): 89-93.
Freeman. H.A. (coordinator). 1974. Zone 4: Great Plains. Pp. 6-8 In: Leuschner, R. (editor). The 1973 field season summary. News of the Lepidopterists' Society No. 2.
Kendall, R.O. & W.W. McGuire. 1984. Some new and rare records of Lepidoptera found in Texas. Bulletin of the Allyn Museum 86: 1-50.
Knudson, E. & C. Bordelon. 2002. Illustrated Checklist of the
Lepidoptera of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Part 1: Butterflies. TLS
Pub. 9a. Texas Lepidoptera Survey, Houston. viii + 84 pp., 20 plates.
Knudson, E. & C. Bordelon. 2004. Illustrated Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, TX. Vol. 2B: Macro-Moths. Texas Lepidoptera Survey, Houston. xiv + 59 pp. 20 plates.\
Knudson, E. & C. Bordelon. 2008. Illustrated Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas, Vol. 3C: Micro-Moths and Geometroids. Texas Lepidoptera Survey, Houston. 30 pp., 18 plates.
Linter, J.A. 1884. On some Rio Grande Lepidoptera. Papilio 4(7-8): 135-147.
McGuire, W.W. & M.A. Richard. 1974. An annotated checklist of the butterflies of Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State park and vicinity. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. mimeograph pp 1-22.
McGuire, W.W. & M.A. Rickard. 1976. New Hesperiidae records for Texas and the United States. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 30(1):5-11.
Rickard, M.A.1993. Destination: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, TX. American Butterflies 1( 2):4-9.
Snow, F.H. 1906. Some results of the University of Kansas entomological expeditions to Galveston and Brownsville, Tex., in 1904 and 1905. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 20 (1) : 136-154.
Warren, A. D. 2005. Hugh Avery Freeman (1912 - 2002): Reflections on his life and contributions to lepidopterology. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 59(1): 45-58.
Wauer, R.H. 2004. Butterflies of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Johnson Books, Boulder. 331 pp.
Mostly Silk and Tiger Moths plus one geometrid not found north of the Valley:
The first two native bee species below were recently recorded as new U.S. records at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX.
Some eight other bee species are only known from the RGV in the U.S. (Jack Neff, pers. comm. 2019)
Wild Bees of the National Butterfly Center - Paula Sharp and Ross Eatman
So far the above website showcases about 40 native bee species, but Sharp and Eatman hope to expand it to about 100 by the end of 2019. Based on previous surveys, they estimate, their photo gallery could eventually contain as many as 250 species.
That’s assuming they have enough time to complete their work, of course, as virtually all of these species would be affected once construction on the border wall begins.
Border Wall Threatens Rare Native Bees
Discover Life - Great portal for Bee information
Cockerell, W.P. 1917. Collecting bees in southern Texas. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 25(3): 187–193.
Michener, C.D. 2007. Bees of the World, Second Edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 992 pp.
Porter, C.C. 1981. Scoliidae (Hymenoptera) of the lower Río Grande valley. The Florida Entomologist 64(3): 441-453.
Schwarz, H.F. 1929. Honey wasps. Natural History, 29(4): 421-426.
Wilson, J.S. and O.J.M. Carril. 2015. The bees in your backyard: A guide to North America’s bees. Princeton University Press. 288 pp
O’Keefe, S.T., J.L. Cook, T. Dudek, D.F. Wunneburger, M.D. Guzman, R.N. Coulson, and S.B. Vinson. 2000. The distribution of ants in Texas. Southwestern Entomologist, Supplemental Issue No. 22. 92 pp.
Wheeler, W.M. 1908. The ants of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. (Part I.), Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 24(21): 399-485.
Clover, E.U. 1937. Vegetational survey of the lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Madrono 4: 41–66, 77–100.
Collins, K. 1984. Status and management of native South Texas brushlands. Page 18. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services Office, Corpus Christi, Texas, United States.
Diamond, D.D, D.H. Riskind, and S.L. Orzell. 1987. A framework for
plant community classification and conservation in Texas. Texas Journal
of Science 39: 203–221.
Jahrsdoerfer, S.E., and Leslie, D.M., Jr., 1988. Tamaulipan
brushland of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of south Texas—
Description, human impacts, and management options: U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report, v. 88, no. 36,
Leslie, D.M., Jr., 2016. An international borderland of concern—Conservation of biodiversity in the Lower Rio Grande Valley: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5078, 120 pp..
Lonard, R.I. 1985. Natural communities of the South Texas Plains. Page 12 Proceedings of the Texas Academy of Science, Conservation Committee on Natural Communities of Texas. University of Texas, Dallas.
R.I., and F.W. Judd. 1985. Effects of a severe freeze on native woody
plants in the lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas. The Southwestern
Naturalist 30: 397– 403.
R.I., and F.W. Judd. 1991. Comparison of the effects of the severe
freezes of 1983 and 1989 on native woody plants in the Lower Rio Grande
Valley, Texas. The Southwestern Naturalist:36(2): 213–217.
Lonard, R.I., and F.W. Judd. 2002. Riparian vegetation of the lower Rio Grande. The Southwestern Naturalist 47: 420–432.
T. 1991. Preliminary description of the vegetation of south Texas
exclusive of coastal saline zones. The Texas Journal of Science 43:
Neck, R.W. 1980. Invertebrates of the lower Rio Grande valley of Texas, with special references to the southmost, Cameron county area. Report to Natural Area Survey (unpublished). Texas Conservation Foundation, Austin. 54 pp.
Rappole, J.H., C.E. Russell, J.R. Norwine, and T.E. Fulbright. 1986. Anthropogenic pressures and impacts on marginal, neotropical, semiarid ecosystems: the case of south Texas. Science of the Total Environment 55: 91–99.
Riskind, D.H., R. George, G. Waggerman, and T. Hayes. 1987. Restoration in the subtropical United States. Ecological Restoration 5: 80–82.
United States Department of the Interior. 1980. Department of the interior habitat preservation plan – preservation of areas of important fish and wildlife habitat: Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy counties, Texas. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1984. Land protection plan for lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy Counties, Texas. The Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Fish and Wildlife Service. 1997. Final lower Rio Grande Valley and
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuges Comprehensive Conservation Plan. U.S. Department of the Interior.
Thanks to the following individuals for their welcome suggestions of additional species.
23 March 2019
© Mike Quinn / email@example.com / Texas