Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


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Compiler and date details

15 February 2002


The Geocoridae are a cosmopolitan family of lygaeoid bugs comprising 25 genera and 274 species (Slater & O'Donnell 1995, Slater 1999; Zoological Record 2000–2001, Henry 2009). The Australian fauna includes four genera and 20 species.

Baerensprung (1860) first recognised the group (Geocorinae sensu lato) at suprageneric level. Montandon (1913) recognised three tribes: Germalini, Geocorini and Henestarini. Bergroth (1921) erected the Psammiini as a geocorine tribe for two Eastern Hemisphere genera. Slater (1964) at first accepted the aforementioned status and position of Psammiini, but later indicated that its systematic position was uncertain (Slater & Sweet 1965).

Henry (1997) raised the geocorids to family level in a review of lygaeoid relationships. He recognised the Geocorinae + Bledionotinae (including Pamphantini) + Henestarinae as a monophyletic group based on the presence of reniform eyes, posteriorly curved abdominal sutures in larvae, and the helicoid process of the male phallus.

Slater (1999) largely accepted this arrangement, but raised the Pamphantini to subfamily. He allocated the pamphantines to three tribes: the nominotypical tribe, and two new tribes, the Cattarini and Epipolopini. He questioned the position of the Bledionotinae in the Geocoridae because of abdominal spiracle and spermathecal features, but maintained them within the family pending further study. Accordingly, the classification used in this Catalogue is as follows: Geocoridae: Geocorinae, Pamphantinae (Pamphantini, Cattarini, Epipolopini), Bledionotinae and Henestarinae.

Scudder (1963) combined the bledionotines and pamphantines, removing them from the Rhyparochromidae, and suggested similarities between this group and geocorines. Seidenstucker (1964) and Péricart (1998) maintained the Bledionotinae as a separate subfamily within the Lygaeidae sensu lato. Péricart (1998) also maintained the Henestarinae as a separate subfamily with affinities to geocorines.

The Geocorinae comprise 13 genera and 233 species and have a cosmopolitan distribution, although most taxa are found in the Eastern Hemisphere. The majority of species belong to the nominotypical genus Geocoris Fallén (169 species) and Germalus Stål (37 species). The remaining genera are composed of five or less species and six genera are monotypic.

The Australian geocorine fauna includes three genera and 19 species. Geocoris is represented in Australia by nine species, most of which have tropical distribution; two species are known only from Christmas Island. Germalus contains five species, four of which are found in tropical Australia. Germalus victoriae Bergroth is broadly distributed across Australia and is extremely variable in colour; in this Catalogue we propose three new synonymies for this species based on an examination of the types. Stylogeocoris is represented by five species, three of which are broadly distributed. Malipatil (1994) revised the Australian species of Geocoris and Stylogeocoris, providing generic diagnoses and descriptions. He suggested that Geocoris is poorly defined and probably represents several distinct genera. He did not adhere to subgeneric arrangements of the genus (e.g. Puton 1875; Linnavuori 1972; accepted by Slater & O'Donnell 1995) and none is followed in this Catalogue. Significant extralimital works concerning the Geocorinae include Readio & Sweet (1982—Nearctic Region) and revisions of the Palaearctic fauna by Kerzhner (1979—former USSR) and Péricart (1998—western Palaearctic). Henry (2005) revised the New World genus Epipolops Herrich-Schaeffer.

The Pamphantinae comprise nine genera and 34 species. The group is found only in the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of the Australian endemic species, Austropamphantus woodwardi Slater. This species is restricted to the Iron Range district of Queensland and is known only from the type locality (Slater 1981). The Pamphantini comprises six genera and 18 species, with most species restricted to the Neotropical Region (Brailovsky 1989, 1990; Slater & O'Donnell 1995; Slater 1999). The Cattarini and Epipolopini each contain nine species and are restricted to the northern countries of South America (Scudder 1963; Slater 1999; Slater & Henry 1999).

The Bledionotinae comprise a monotypic ant-mimetic genus found from the eastern Mediterranean to Afghanistan (Péricart 1998). The Henestarinae contain three genera and 16 species, most of which occur in the Palaearctic and Afrotropical Regions; the monotypic Argentinian genus Coriantipus Bergroth is the exception. Zheng & Dong (1996) discussed the relationships of henestarines, and Péricart (1998) revised the eastern Palaearctic fauna.

Sweet (2000) summarised the biology of geocorids. Most knowledge concerns the bionomics of Geocoris species of economic importance. Unlike most other lygaeoids, Geocorinae are generalist predators, feeding on small arthropods. Sweet (1960) reported likely omnivory for some geocorines, based on successful rearing of species on sunflower seeds under laboratory conditions. Cobben (1978) speculates that complete development for geocorines may require supplemental plant food. Eubanks & Denno (2000) reported that the presence of high-quality plant nutrients reduced the intake of arthropod prey by a Geocoris species.

Geocorines are 'up-on-plants' and some species appear to have definitive host plants (Péricart 1998). They are considered to be among the most important natural enemies in agroecosystems, such as cotton plantations in the United States (Hagler & Cohen 1991). Sweet (2000) and others have promoted geocorids as potentially valuable biological control agents because of their energetic predatory behaviour.

The biology of the Australian species is poorly understood and only a few host plant records are known. Geocoris lubrus Kirkaldy is known from monocot and dicot crop plants, such as rice, sorghum, sunflower, watermelon, cotton, lucerne and potato. Stylogeocoris elongatus Distant has been recorded feeding on the Lantana Lacebug, Teleonemia scrupulosa Stål.

Species of the other geocorid subfamilies are assumed to be phytophagous and are probably granivorous. Nothing is known of the biology of Bledionotinae, aside from their ground-dwelling habit. Henestarinae are apparently granivorous, 'up-on-plants', and are often associated with halophilic plants (Péricart 1998). Pamphantinae are arboreal and are known only from rainforest canopies of the Neotropics (Slater 1998, 1999, Slater & Henry 1999). The biology of the Australian pamphantine species, Austropamphantus woodwardi, is unknown.



Geocoridae are either elongate, elongate-ovoid to oval (Geocorinae, Henestarinae), elongate-ovoid with bizarre modifications (Pamphantinae: Epipolopini) or with ant-mimetic fascies (Bledionotinae, Pamphantinae: Cattarini, Pamphantini). The eyes are often reniform and sometimes stalked. Ocelli are present. The antennae and labium are 4-segmented. Abdominal spiracles II–IV are dorsal and spiracles V–VII ventral. The larvae have anteriorly curved dorsal abdominal sutures. (Scudder 1963; Malipatil 1994; Schuh & Slater 1995; Henry 1997)


General References

Baerensprung, F. 1860. Catalogus Hemipterorum Europae. Hemiptera Heteroptera Europaea systematice disposita. Berliner Entomologische Zeitschrift 4: 1-25

Bergroth, E. 1921. An aberrant genus of Geocorinae. Entomologist's Monthly Magazine 3 7: 110-113

Brailovsky, H. 1989. Un Género y dos especies nuevas de Hemipteros (Lygaeidae, Bledionotinae, Pamphantini) del Bresil. Anales del Instituto de Biologia, Universidad Nacional de Mexico Zool. 59: 193

Brailovsky, H. 1990. Descripción de dos especies nuevas del género Epipolops H.S. de sudamerica (Hemiptera-Heteroptera-Lygaeidae-Bledionotinae). Anales del Instituto de Biologia, Universidad Nacional de Mexico Zool 61: 126-132

Cobben, R.H. 1978. Evolutionary Trends in Heteroptera. Part II. Mouthpart-structures and feeding strategies. Wageningen : H. Veenman & B.V. Zonen 407 pp.

Eubanks, M.D. & Denno, R.F. 2000. Host plants mediate omnivore-herbivore interactions and influence prey suppression. Ecology 81(4): 936-947

Hagler, J.R. & Cohen, A.C. 1991. Prey selection by in vitro- and field-reared Geocoris punctipes. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 59: 201-205

Henry, T.J. 1997. Phylogenetic analysis of family groups within the infraorder Pentatomomorpha (Hemiptera: Heteroptera), with emphasis on the Lygaeoidea. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 90(3): 275-301

Henry, T.J. 2005. Revision of the New World lygaeoid genus Epipolops (Heteroptera: Geocoridae: Pamphantinae: Epipolopini), with descriptions of five new species. The Canadian Entomologist 138(4): 504-530

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.

Kerzhner, I.M. 1979. Poluzhestkokrylye roda Geocoris (Heteroptera: Lygaeidae) fauny SSSR i Mongolii. Nasekomye Mongolii 6: 41-71

Linnavuori, R. 1972. On the taxonomy of the genus Geocoris Fn (Het., Lygaeidae). Acta Entomologica Fennica 38(2): 100-106

Malipatil, M.B. 1994. Revision of Australian Geocoris Fallén and Stylogeocoris Montandon (Heteroptera: Lygaeidae: Geocorinae). Invertebrate Taxonomy 8: 299-327

Montandon, A.L. 1913. Nouvelles études sur les Geocorinae (Hemipt.). Note présentée dans la séances du 20 Mai 1913. Bulletin de la Section Scientifique de l'Académie Roumaine 1 2: 48-60

Péricart, J. 1998. Hémiptères Lygaeidae Euro-Méditerranéens. Volume 2. Systématique: Seconde Partie. Oxycareninae, Bledionotinae, Rhyparochrominae (1). Faune de France 84B: I-III 1-453, 3 pls

Puton, A. 1875. Catalogue des Hémiptères (Hétéroptères, Cicadines & Psyllides) d'Europe et du Bassin de la Méditerranée. Paris : Deyrolle 87 pp.

Readio, J. & Sweet, M.H. 1982. A review of the Geocorinae of the United States East of the 100th Meridian (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae). Miscellaneous Publications of the Entomological Society of America 12: 1-91

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.

Scudder, G.G.E. 1963. Pamphantinae, Bledionotinae and the genus Cattarus Stål (Heteroptera: Lygaeidae). Opuscula Entomologica. Lund 28: 81-89

Seidenstücker, G. 1964. Zur Systematik von Bledionotus, Bethylimorphus und Thaumastella Horváth (Heteroptera, Lygaeidae). Reichenbachia 3(25): 269-279

Slater, J.A. 1964. A Catalogue of the Lygaeidae of the World. Storrs : University of Connecticut xviii 1668 pp.

Slater, J.A. 1981. Two new genera of Lygaeidae from northern Australia including the first member of the Pamphantini from the Eastern Hemisphere (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 20: 111-118

Slater, J.A. 1998. A new species of Epipolops H.S. from South America (Heteroptera: Lygaeoidea: Geocoridae). Journal of the New York Entomological Society 106(2–3): 64-68

Slater, J.A. 1999. The systematic position of the Pamphantinae with the description of two new tribes and a new species of Cattarus (Hemiptera: Lygaeoidea: Geocoridae). Acta Societatis Zoologicae Bohemicae 63: 199-208

Slater, J.A. & Henry, T.J. 1999. Notes on and descriptions of new Pamphantinae, including four new species of Cattarus and a remarkable new myrmecomorphic genus and species (Heteroptera: Lygaeidae: Geocoridae). Journal of the New York Entomological Society 107(4): 304-330

Slater, J.A. & O'Donnell, J.E. 1995. A Catalogue of the Lygaeidae of the World (1960–1994). New York : New York Entomological Society xv 410 pp.

Slater, J.A. & Sweet, M.H. 1965. The systematic position of the Psamminae (Heteroptera: Lygaeidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 67: 255-262

Sweet, M.H. 1960. The seed bugs: a contribution to the feeding habits of the Lygaeidae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 55: 317-321

Zheng, L.-Y. & Dong, J. 1996. Notes on external morphology of Henestarinae (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae) and its phylogenetic significance. Entomotaxonomia 18(1): 1-10


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)
05-Dec-2019 05-Dec-2012 MODIFIED
15-Aug-2012 15-Aug-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)