Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

15 February 2002


The Alydidae or broad-headed bugs are a cosmopolitan family of coreoid bugs. About 45 genera and 254 species are known worldwide (Slater 1982; Schuh & Slater 1995; Zoological Record 1995–2001; Henry 2009), with most species occurring in the subtropical and tropical regions of the world. The Australian fauna comprises seven genera and 16 species.

The alydids were first recognised as a family by Amyot & Serville (1843), a ranking which has been followed by most subsequent authors (Schaefer 1965; Slater 1982; Schuh & Slater 1995). Stål (1867) regarded them as a subfamily of the Coreidae, and despite a close relationship, this classification has had little modern usage. Schaefer (1965) identified two subfamilies, the Alydinae and Micrelytrinae, with the latter divided into two tribes (Micrelytrinae and Leptocorisini). Ahmad (1965) raised the Leptocorisini to subfamily, thereby recognising three alydid subfamilies. Until recently, this arrangement had been followed by most authors (Schaefer 1979, 1980, 1996; Froeschner 1988). Li & Zheng (1993) provided a cladistic classification of the alydids, supporting Schaefer's (1965) division into two subfamilies. Schaefer (1999) reviewed the morphology and classification of the alydids and established the following classification: Alydinae (Alydini and Daclerini) and Micrelytrinae (Micrelytrini and Leptocorisini: Leptocorisina and Noliphina). This arrangement is followed in the Catalogue.

Lethierry & Severin (1894) is the most recent bibliographic treatment of the family on a worldwide basis. A number of regional catalogues exist, among them Oshanin (1912) and Dolling (2006 C; Palaearctic Region), Froeschner (1981; Ecuador) (1988; Nearctic Region)(2000; Panama). The Alydidae have received little modern monographic treatment. The most important revisionary works are: Stål (1859, 1867, 1873; world), Fracker (1918; Nearctic Region), Gross (1963; Micronesia), Schaffner (1964; world), Ahmad (1965; Leptocorisini of world), Linnavuori (1987; west and central Africa), Brailovsky (1991; Neotropical Region), and Moulet (1995; Mediterranean), Göllner-Sheiding (2000; Africa) and Schaefer (2004; Nearctic region).

The Australian alydids are not represented by a distinctive autochthonous element—only one genus and four species being restricted to Australia. A number of species are broadly distributed in Australia and also in Melanesia and/or the Oriental Region, e.g. Melanacanthus margineguttatus Distant, Riptortus abdominalis (Westwood), R. atricornis Stål, R. linearis (Fabricius), R. serripes (Fabricius), Leptocorisa acuta (Thunberg), L. oratorius (Fabricius), L. palawanenis Ahmad, Mutusca brevicornis (Dallas), M. prolixa (Stål), Noliphus annulipes Walker and N. erythrocephalus Stål.

The Alydinae are the most diverse alydid subfamily and are found in all major zoogeographic Regions (Schaffner 1964). In Australia, the Alydinae are represented by three genera (Hamedius Stål, Melanacanthus Stål and Riptortus Stål) and eight species. Species of the latter two genera are commonly found in the tropical and subtropical regions of Australia, often on the seeds of Acacia species. Both genera are in need of taxonomic revision and new species of Riptortus await description.

The Daclerini is a monogeneric tribe of alydids that are found in the Australian and Oriental Regions. In Australia, they are represented by the endemic species, Daclera rufescens Stål, which is only known from tropical coastal Queensland.

The Micrelytrinae are represented in Australia by both subtribes of the Leptocorisini. The Leptocorisina, best known by the paddy bugs (Leptocorisa Latreille), are serious pests of rice. Three species of Leptocorisa are known for Australia, two of which are ubiquitous in the north of the continent. The Noliphina are represented in Australia by two species of Noliphus Stål, both of which occur in the tropical regions of Queensland and the Northern Territory, and extralimitally.

Alydids are phytophagous on either vegetative material or ripe and unripe seeds. Schaefer (1980), Schaefer & Mitchell (1983) and Schuh & Slater (1995) summarised their feeding habits and host plant relationships. Alydinae feed predominantly on Fabaceae and Micrelytrinae feed mainly on grasses. Schaefer (1972) discussed the evolution of alydids in relation to feeding behaviour. He distinguished groups on the basis of 'primitive' (Noliphina) and 'advanced' (Leptocorisina) grass-feeders, and epigaeic (and perhaps arboreal) seed-predators (Alydinae). Panizzi et al. (2000) reviewed alydid biology and species of economic importance, including Leptocorisa acuta, Riptortus linearis and R. serripes.

The host associations of Australian alydids are poorly known and a number of hosts listed in the Catalogue are from collections and may represent merely 'sitting records'. The majority of alydine species in Australia are found on either legumes (e.g. Cassia spp.) or wattles. Riptortus linearis is a pest of legumes and is also known from several unrelated hosts. The pod-sucking bug, Riptortus serripes, feeds on Acacia species and is an occasional pest of soybeans.

The host associations of the Leptocorisina have been documented more fully. Sands (1977) provided a detailed account of the biology of Leptocorisa species in Papua New Guinea, outlining their life histories, host associations and crop damage. Leptocorisa acuta is a major pest of rice, and is also known from a wide range of other grasses. The larvae and adults of this species can cause complete crop loss by feeding on the developing rice grains in the milky stage (Siwi & van Doesburg 1984). Monteith (1982) reported that this species aggregates in large populations in monsoon forests of tropical Queensland in the dry season. There are no previously published host records for Mutusca species, but they are known to be abundant on a wide variety of grasses. Nothing is known of the host associations of Noliphus species in Australia.

Alydines are also characterised by ant-mimetic larvae. Oliveira (1985) and McIver & Stonedahl (1943) reported on the morphological and behavioural aspects of the mimicry.



Most species of Alydidae are characterised by their elongate and slender form and often elongate appendages. They are often dull grey-brown in colour. Some species mimic ants (particularly the larvae) or wasps. The head width is greater than half the width of the posterior margin of the pronotum. The bucculae never exceed the antenniferous tubercles. The antennae are inserted dorsad of the midline of the eye. The metathoracic glands have a single small sac and the external efferent system has a distinct peritreme. The membrane of the hemelytra has numerous veins. The abdominal trichobothria are lateral and sublateral on sterna V–VII and submedial on sterna III and IV. The male and female genitalia are diagnostic. (Ahmad & Southwood 1964; Schaefer 1975; McIver & Stonedahl 1993; Schuh & Slater 1995)


General References

Ahmad, I. 1965. The Leptocorisinae (Heteroptera: Alydidae) of the world. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology (Supplement) 5: 1-156

Ahmad, I. & Southwood, T.R.E. 1964. The morphology of the alydid abdomen with special reference to the genitalia and its bearing on classification (Heteroptera). Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 107: 1-42

Amyot, C.J.B. & Audinet-Serville, J.G. 1843. Histoire Naturelle des Insects. Hémiptères. Paris : Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret, Rue Hautefeuille 10 B13 676 pp.

Brailovsky, H. 1991. Hemiptera-Heteroptera from Mexico. LXIII. A new genus and three new species of Neotropical Micrelytrinae (Alydidae) collected on bamboos. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 99: 487-495

Dolling, W.R. 2006. Alydidae. pp. 28-42 in Aukema B. & Reiger Ch. (Eds.). Catalogue of the Heteroptera of the Palaearctic Region. Amsterdam : Netherlands Entomological Society Vol. 5 pp. i-xiii, 1-550.

Fracker, S.B. 1918. The Alydinae of the United States. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 11: 255-280

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. Alydidae. pp. 4-11 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

Göllner-Scheiding, U. 2000. The Alydinae of Africa (Insecta: Heteroptera: Coreoidea: Alydidae). Entomologische Abhandlungen. Staatliches Museum für Tierkunde Dresden 59(1): 5-53

Gross, G.F. 1963. Insects of Micronesia. Coreidae (Alydini by J.C. Schaffner), Neididae, and Nabidae. Insects of Micronesia 7: 357-390

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.

Lethierry, L. & Severin, G. 1894. Catalogue Général des Hémiptères. Tome II. Hétéroptères Coreidae, Berytidae, Lygaeidae, Pyrrhocoridae. Bruxelles : F. Hayez 277 pp.

Li, X.-Z. & Zheng, L.-Y. 1993. Preliminary study on the phylogeny of Alydidae (Hemiptera: Coreoidea). Acta Zootaxonomica Sinica 18(3): 330-343

Linnavuori, R. 1987. Alydidae, Stenocephalidae and Rhopalidae of West and Central Africa. Acta Entomologica Fennica 49: 1-36

McIver, J.D. & Stonedahl, G. 1993. Myrmecomorphy: morphological and behavioural mimicry of ants. Annual Review of Entomology 38: 351-379

Monteith, G.B. 1982. Dry season aggregations of insects in Australian monsoon forests. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 20: 533-543 pl. 1

Moulet, P. 1995. Hémiptères Coreoidea (Coreidae, Rhopalidae, Alydidae), Pyrrhocoridae, Stenocephalidae, Euro-Méditerranéens. Faune de France 81: v 1-336

Oliviera, P.S. 1985. On the mimetic association between nymphs of Hyalymenus spp. (Hemiptera: Alydidae) and ants. Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Zoology 83: 371-384

Oshanin, B.F. 1912. Katalog der paläarktischen Hemipteren (Heteroptera, Homoptera—Auchenorrhyncha und Psylloideae). Berlin : R. Friedländer & Sohn xvi 187 pp.

Panizzi, A.R., Schaefer, C.W. & Natuhara, Y. 2000. Broad-Headed Bugs (Alydidae). pp. 321-336 in Schaefer, C.W. & Panizzi, A.R. (eds). Heteroptera of Economic Importance. Boca Raton : CRC Press 828 pp.

Sands, D.P.A. 1977. The biology and ecology of Leptocorisa (Hemiptera: Alydidae) in Papua New Guinea. Research Bulletin of the Department of Primary Industry, Port Morseby 1977(18): 1-104

Schaefer, C.W. 1965. The morphology and higher classification of the Coreoidea (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). Parts III. The families Rhopalidae, Alydidae, and Coreidae. Miscellaneous Publications of the Entomological Society of America 5: 1-76

Schaefer, C.W. 1972. Clades and grades in the Alydidae. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 45: 135-141

Schaefer, C.W. 1975. Heteropteran trichobothria, (Hemiptera-Heteroptera). International Journal of Insect Morphology and Embryology 4: 193-264

Schaefer, C.W. 1979. The host plants of the Alydinae, with a note on heterotypic feeding aggregations (Hemiptera: Coreidae: Alydidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 53: 115-122

Schaefer, C.W. 1980. The host plants of Alydinae, with a note on heterotypic feeding aggregations (Hemiptera: Coreoidea: Alydidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 53: 115-122

Schaefer, C.W. 1996. A new species of Cydamus, with a key to the species of the genus (Hemiptera: Alydidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 89: 37-40

Schaefer, C.W. 1999. The higher classification of the Alydidae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 10(1): 94-98

Schaefer, C.W. 2004. Key to the genera of New World Alydidae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 106(2): 280-287

Schaefer, C.W. & Mitchell, P.L. 1983. Food plants of the Coreoidea (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 76: 591-615

Schaffner, J.C. 1964. A Taxonomic Revision of Certain Genera of the Tribe Alydini (Heteroptera, Cordeidae). Ames : Iowa State University.

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.

Siwi, S.S. & van Doesburg, P.H. 1984. Leptocorisa Latreille in Indonesia (Heteroptera, Coreidae, Alydinae). Zoologische Mededelingen (Leiden) 58: 117-129

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.

Stål, C. 1859. Till kännedomen om Coreida. Öfversigt af Kongelige Vetenskaps-Akademiens Förhandlingar, Stockholm 16: 449-477

Stål, C. 1867. Bidrag till Hemipterernas Systematik. Öfversigt af Kongelige Vetenskaps-Akademiens Förhandlingar, Stockholm 24(7): 491-560

Stål, C. 1873. Enumeratio Hemipterorum. Bidrag till en förteckning öfver aller hittills kända Hemiptera, jemte systematiska meddelanden. 3. Kongliga Svenska Vetenskaps-Academiens Nya Handlingar, Stockholm n.f. 11(2): 1-163


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)