Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


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Compiler and date details

15 February 2002


The Acanthosomatidae are a cosmopolitan family of pentatomoid bugs, most commonly encountered in the temperate and subtropical parts of the world (Thomas 1991). The family comprises 46 genera and over 184 species (Kumar 1974; Slater 1982; Schuh & Slater 1995; Henry 2009). Seventeen genera and 45 species are recorded for Australia.

Signoret (1863) was the first to recognise the group at family level. Stål (1876) maintained the family status, primarily on the basis of characters of the female abdomen. Breddin (1897) disputed this arrangement and relegated the group to a subfamily of Pentatomidae. Kirkaldy (1909) further revised their status to a tribe in Pentatominae. Dupuis (1948) suggested that the group is distinct because of 'primitive' characters. Leston (1953) re-established the Acanthosomatidae, an arrangement that has been followed by most subsequent authors (e.g. Kumar 1974, Carver et al. 1991, Schuh & Slater 1995). Gapud (1991) in a cladistic analysis of pentatomoid families, established relationships of the Acanthosomatidae with the Dinidoridae + Tessaratomidae and the Scutelleridae.

Kumar (1974) monographed the Acanthosomatidae of the world, providing a generic reclassification, including keys and a tribal and subfamilial classification. The Acanthosomatidae are divided into three subfamilies and four tribes, the Acanthosomatinae, Blaudusinae (Blaudusini and Lanopini) and Ditomotarsinae (Ditomotarsini and Laccophorellini). All these suprageneric groups, aside from the Ditomotarsini, are present in Australia. This arrangement was followed by Cassis & Gross (2002).

Lethierry & Severin (1893) and Kirkaldy (1909) catalogued the world fauna. Froeschner (1988) catalogued the North American fauna, updating previous treatments by Van Duzee (1916, 1917) and Torre-Bueno (1939). McPherson (1982) and Thomas (1991) revised the north-eastern North American fauna. Froeschner (1981, 1988, 2000) catalogued the acanthosomatids of North America, Ecuador and Panama. Rolston & Kumar (1974) gave a key to the acanthosomatid genera of the Western Hemisphere. Leston (1953) referred to the Afrotropical fauna and Jacobs (1985) reported the presence of seven genera and 12 species from southern Africa. Cachan (1952) described three genera and five species from Madagascar. Kment (2005) revised the genus Mahea and provided a key to the Acanthosomatidae of Madagascar and Seychelles. Ahmad & Moizuddin (1990) revised the Indo-Pakistan acanthosomatids and provided a cladistic analysis of the genera. Larivière (1995) described the New Zealand fauna.

Australian acanthosomatids are highly endemic with 12 of the 17 genera and 43 of 45 species restricted to Australia. The family is found primarily in temperate Australia, across all the southern States. The Australian fauna was described mainly by Dallas (1851), Walker (1867), Stål (1866, 1876), Reuter (1881) and Distant (1909, 1910). Jensen-Haarup (1928, 1930) and Kumar (1974) provided the most recent descriptions of new Australian species.

The Acanthosomatinae are found in the Palaearctic, Oriental and Australian Regions. The subfamily is represented in Australia by six genera and 25 species. The well-known genera Elasmucha Stål and Elasmostethus Fieber, are found in the Nearctic Region and the Eastern Hemisphere. In Australia, Amphaces Dallas (6 species), Elasmostethus (6 species) and Eupolemus Distant (10 species) are the most speciose genera. Rhopalimorpha Dallas occurs in Australia and New Zealand (Pendergrast 1950, 1952; Woodward 1953) and is represented in Australia by a single species.

The Blaudusinae are restricted to the Southern Hemisphere and the two known tribes, the Blaudusini and the Lanopini, are known from South Africa, Madagascar, Australia and South America. The Blaudusini is represented in Australia by seven genera and 19 species, all of which are endemic. The most diverse genera are Andriscus Stål (4 species) and Hiarchas Distant (4 species). The Lanopini is represented in Australia by two endemic genera (Anischys Dallas and Galgacus Distant) and three endemic species.

The Ditomotarsinae are known from Africa, Australia and South America. The subfamily is represented in Australia by two genera and two species belonging to the tribe Laccophorellini. The Australian record of Aesepus signoretii Stål is doubtful. Kumar (1974) synonymised this species with the South African species, Dregea capensis Distant, and suggested that the type locality information of A. signoretii is erroroneus. He suggested that the specimen label 'Austral' of the type could be interpreted as southern and could equally be applied to southern Africa. Although no specimens of this species are known in Australian collections, the species is tentatively retained in the Australian fauna pending further investigation.

Knowledge of the biology of acanthosomatids is limited. They are thought to be chiefly phytophagous and most species are associated with trees and shrubs (Froeschner 1988). They are known from a wide variety of angiosperms but there is no pattern to their associations (Schaefer & Ahmad 1987). The Madagascan species, Catadispon imernensis Cachan, is known from a Ficus species (Moraceae). The Australian species, Sangarius paradoxus Stål has been taken on a Hakea species (Proteaceae). The New Zealand species, Rhopalimorpha lineolaris Pendergrast is known from a variety of monocot plants belonging to the genera Carex Linnaeus (Cyperaceae), Juncus Linnaeus (Juncaceae), Cladium P.Br. (Cyperaceae) and Dactylis Linnaeus (Poaceae). There is incidental information that Anischys lundbecki Jensen-Haarup feeds on chrysomelid beetles. A few extralimital species have been recorded as being cannibalistic as well as feeding on carrion (Miller 1956).

Acanthosomatids exhibit maternal care of eggs and early instars (Southwood 1956; Slater 1982; Kudo et al. 1989, Tallamy & Schaefer 1997, Thomas 1991). Aldrich (1988) reported that acanthosomatids are semiochemically adapted to this behaviour with larvae depositing trail pheromones and emitting alarm pheromones. Both sexes have exocrine glands and the females are thought to guard the eggs. Cobben (1968) provided information on the egg morphology and embryology of acanthosomatids. Jones & McPherson (1980) described in detail the biology of a few North American species. There are no such studies for any Australian species.



Acanthosomatids are small to medium-sized bugs. The head is keeled laterally. The antennae are 5-segmented. The mesosternum has a strongly projecting keel. The tarsi are 2-segmented. The second visible abdominal sternum has an elongate spine, projecting anteriorly. Abdominal segment II has the spiracles concealed by the metapleura. Paired trichobothria are present on abdominal sterna III. The genital capsule of the male is specialised. The posterior margin of sternum VII of the female is emarginate. Females have one or two pairs of Pendergrast's organs (abdominal sternal glands). The spermatheca is simple. Sternite VIII is exposed in males. (Leston 1953; Kumar 1974; Slater 1982; Schuh & Slater 1995)


General References

Ahmad, I. & Moizuddin, M. 1990. A revision of Acanthosomatidae (Hemiptera: Pentatomomorpha: Pentatomoidea) from Indo-Pakistan area with a cladistic analysis of the genera. Oriental Insects 24: 267-304

Aldrich, J.R. 1988. Chemical ecology of the Heteroptera. Annual Review of Entomology 33: 211-238

Breddin, G. 1897. Hemipteren. pp. 10-13 in Michaelsen, W. (ed.). Ergebnisse der Hamburger Magalhaensischen Sammalreise, 1892/93. Herausgegeben vom naturhistorischen Museum zu Hamburg. Hamburg : L. Friederischen & Co. II. Arthropoden 36 & 2 unnumbered pp.

Cachan, P. 1952. Les Pentatomidae de Madagascar (Hemiptères Hetéroptères). Mémoires de l'Institut Scientifique de Madagascar E 1: 231-462

Carver, M., Gross, G.F. & Woodward, T.E. 1991. Hemiptera (bugs, leafhoppers, cicadas, aphids, scale insects, etc.) [with contributions by Cassis, G., Evans, J.W., Fletcher, M.J., Hill, L., Lansbury, I., Malipatil, M.B., Monteith, G.B., Moulds, M.S., Polhemus, J.T., Slater, J.A., Štys, P., Taylor, K.L., Weir, T.A. & Williams, D.J.]. pp. 429-509 in CSIRO (ed.). The Insects of Australia. A textbook for students and research workers. Melbourne : Melbourne University Press Vol. 1 xiii 542 pp.

Cassis, G. & Gross, G.F. 2002. Hemiptera: Heteroptera (Pentatomomorpha). in Houston, W.W.K. & Wells, A. Zoological Catalogue of Australia Vol. 27.3B. Melbourne : CSIRO Publishing, Australia. xiv 737 pp.

Cobben, R.H. 1968. Evolutionary Trends in Heteroptera. Part I. Eggs, architecture of the shell, gross embryology and eclosion. No. 151. Wageningen : Centre for Agricultural Publishing and Documentation Mededeling 475 pp.

Dallas, W.S. 1851. List of the Specimens of Hemipterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum. London : Richard Taylor Part 1 368 pp. XI pls.

Distant, W.L. 1909. Rhynchotal notes. XLVII. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 8 3: 317-345

Distant, W.L. 1910. Rhynchotal notes. LII. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 8 6: 369-386, 465-481, 585-603

Dupuis, C. 1948. Nouvelles données biologiques et morphologiques sur les diptères Phasiinae, parasites d'Hémiptères Hétéroptères. Annales de Parasitologie, Paris 22: 201-232, 397-441

Froeschner, R.C. 1981. Heteroptera or true bugs of Ecuador: a partial catalog. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 1981(322): iv 1-147

Froeschner, R.C. 1988. Acanthosomatidae. pp. 1-3 in Henry, T.J. & Froeschner, R.C. (eds). Catalog of the Heteroptera, or True Bugs, of Canada and the Continental United States. Leiden : E.J. Brill xix 958 pp.

Froeschner, R.C. 2000. True Bugs (Heteroptera) of Panama: A synoptic catalog as a contribution to the study of Panamanian biodiversity. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 62: ii 1-393

Gapud, V.P. 1991. A generic revision of the subfamily Asopinae, with consideration of its phylogenetic position in the family Pentatomidae and superfamily Pentatomoidea (Hemiptera-Heteroptera). Philippine Entomologist 8(3): 865-961

Henry, T.J. 2009. Biodiversity of the Heteroptera. pp. 223–263 in Foottit, R.G. & Adler P.H. (eds). Insect Biodiversity: Science and Society. Oxford : Wiley-Blackwell.

Jacobs, D.H. 1985. Order Hemiptera (Bugs, leafhoppers, cicadas, aphids, scale-insects, etc.). pp. 112-152 in Scholtz, C.H. & Holm, E. (eds). Insects of Southern Africa. Durban : Butterworths 502 pp.

Jensen-Haarup, A.C. 1928. Hemipterological notes and description V. Entomologiske Meddelelser 16: 185-202

Jensen-Haarup, A.C. 1930. New or little known Hemiptera Heteroptera I. Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 1930: 215-222 pl. IV

Jones, W.A. & McPherson, J.E. 1980. The first report of the occurrence of acanthosomatids in South Carolina. Journal of the Georgia Entomological Society 15: 286-289

Kirkaldy, G.W. 1909. Catalogue of the Hemiptera (Heteroptera) with biological and anatomical references, lists of foodplants and parasites, etc. Prefaced by a discussion on nomenclature, and an analytical table of families. Cimicidae. Berlin : Felix L. Dames Vol. 1 xl 392 pp.

Kment, P. 2005. Revision of Mahea Distant, 1909, with a review of the Acanthosomatidae (Insecta: Heteroptera) of Madagascar and Seychelles. Acta Entomologica Musei Nationalis Pragae 45: 21-50

Kudo, S., Sato, M. & Ohara, M. 1989. Prolonged maternal care in Elasmucha dorsalis (Heteroptera: Acanthosomatidae). Journal of Ethology 7: 75-81

Kumar, R. 1974. A revision of world Acanthosomatidae (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae): keys to and descriptions of subfamilies, tribes and genera, with designation of types. Australian Journal of Zoology Supplementary Series 34: 1-60

Larivière, M.-C. 1995. Cydnidae, Acanthosomatidae, and Pentatomidae (Insecta: Heteroptera): systematics, geographical distribution, and bioecology. Fauna of New Zealand 35: 1-119

Leston, D. 1953. Notes on the Ethiopian Pentatomoidea (Hemiptera): XVI, an acanthosomid from Angola, with remarks upon the status and morphology of Acanthosomidae Stål. Companhia Diam. Angola 16: 123-132

Lethierry, L. & Severin, G. 1893. Catalogue Général des Hémiptères. Tome I. Hétéroptères Pentatomidae. Bruxelles : F. Hayez xi 286 pp.

McPherson, J.E. 1982. The Pentatomoidea (Hemiptera) of Northeastern North America with Emphasis of the Fauna of Illinois. Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press xi 241 pp.

Miller, N.C.E. 1956. The Biology of the Heteroptera. London : Leonard Hill Ltd x 162 pp.

Pendergrast, J.G. 1950. The genus Rhopalimorpha Dallas (Hemiptera-Heteroptera) with a description of a new species. Records of the Auckland Institute and Museum 4: 31-34

Pendergrast, J.G. 1952. The genus Rhopalimorpha Dallas (Heteroptera, Pentatomidae). Records of the Auckland Institute and Museum 4: 159-162

Reuter, O.M. 1881. Acanthosomina et Urolabidina nova et minus cognita. Berliner Entomologische Zeitschrift 25: 67-86

Rolston, L.H. & Kumar, R. 1974. Two new genera and two new species of Acanthosomatidae (Hemiptera) from South America, with a key to the genera of the Western Hemisphere. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 82: 271-278

Schaefer, C.W. & Ahmad, I. 1987. The food plants of four pentatomoid families (Hemiptera: Acanthosomatidae, Tessaratomidae, Urostylidae, and Dinidoridae). Phytophaga. Palermo 1: 21-34

Schuh, R.T. & Slater, J.A. 1995. True Bugs of the World (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). Classification and Natural History. Ithaca : Cornell University Press xii 336 pp.

Signoret, V.A. 1863. Révision des Hémiptères du Chili. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 4 3: 541-588

Slater, J.A. 1982. Hemiptera. pp. 417-447 in Parker, S.P. (ed.). Synopsis and Classification of Living Organisms. New York : McGraw Hill Book Co.

Southwood, T.R.E. 1956. The structure of the eggs of the terrestrial Heteroptera and its relationship to the classification of the group. Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London 108: 163-221

Stål, C. 1865. Hemiptera Africana. Holmiae : Norstedtiana Vol. 3 200 pp.

Stål, C. 1876. Enumeratio Hemipterorum. Bidrag till en förteckning öfver aller hittills kända Hemiptera, jemte systematiska meddelanden. 5. Kongliga Svenska Vetenskaps-Academiens Nya Handlingar, Stockholm n.f. 14(4): 1-162

Tallamy, D.W. & Schaefer, C. 1997. Maternal care in the Hemiptera: ancestry, alternatives, and current adaptive value. pp. 94-115 in Choe, J.C. & Crespi, B.J. (eds). The Evolution of Social Behavior in Insects and Arachnids. New York : Cambridge University Press 541 pp.

Thomas, D.B. 1991. The Acanthosomatidae (Heteroptera) of North America. Pan-Pacific Entomologist 67(3): 159-170

Torre-Bueno, J.R. de la 1939. A synopsis of the Hemiptera-Heteroptera of America north of Mexico. Part I. Families Scutelleridae, Cydnidae, Pentatomidae, Aradidae, Dysodiidae and Termitaphididae. Entomologica Americana 19: 141-304

Van Duzee, E.P. 1916. Check List of the Hemiptera (excepting the Aphididae, Aleurodidae and Coccidae) of America, North of Mexico. New York : New York Entomological Society xi 111 pp.

Van Duzee, E.P. 1917. Catalogue of the Hemiptera of America north of Mexico, excepting the Aphididae, Coccidae and Aleurodidae. University of California Publications in Entomology. Technical Bulletin 2: xiv 1-902

Walker, F. 1867. Catalogue of the Specimens of Heteropterous Hemiptera in the Collection of the British Museum. Part I. Scutata. London : E. Newman Preface pp. 1-240.

Woodward, T.E. 1953. The Heteroptera of New Zealand Part I—Introduction; Cydnidae; Pentatomidae. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 80: 299-321


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
15-Aug-2012 15-Aug-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)