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15 February 2002


The Heterogastridae are a family of lygaeoid bugs comprising 24 genera and100 species. Most species are found in the Eastern Hemisphere; there are two Nearctic species in the nominotypical genus, Heterogaster Schilling (Slater & O'Donnell 1995; Zoological Record 1995–2001; Henry 2009). The family is represented in Australia by three genera and five species.

Stål (1862) first recognised the group at suprageneric level (as Phygadicida). It has been considered variously as a family, subfamily, tribe and subtribe and has often been classified with the Pachygronthidae (Slater 1964). Scudder (1957, 1962) revised the limits of heterogastrids, removing the idiostolids (Idiostolus Berg and Trisecus Bergroth) and the obscure genus Meschia Distant. He did not establish any further intrafamilial division among heterogastrids.

Henry (1997) restored familial ranking, considering the Heterogastridae as the sister-group of the Pachygronthidae. He based this on the presence of the elongate ovipositor and the reduced, non-inflatable phallus (Ashlock 1957).

Most heterogastrid genera are found in the Afrotropical and/or Oriental Regions, with Dinomachus Distant and Parathyginus Scudder also occurring in Australia and New Guinea. Heterogaster and Platyplax Fieber are found primarily in the Palaearctic Region (Péricart 1998). Most of the heterogastrid genera comprise five or less species and are confined to one zoogeographic region.

The Australian fauna is depauperate. Dinomachus, the most speciose heterogastrid genus, is represented by one Australian species, D. australis (Carpenter), found in coastal Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands, as well as New Guinea. Parathyginus comprises six species, three of which are known from coastal Queensland, with P. signifier (Walker) also occurring in New Guinea and the Philippines. Slater (1981) described a monotypic ant-mimetic genus, Woodwardothignus Slater, for a species confined to the western side of Cape York. Slater (1981) argued that this taxon has no relationship with the other described Australian heterogastrids and has greater affinity with the Afrotropical genus Hyginellus Distant.

The biology of heterogastrids is not well known. Sweet (1960) considered them to be 'up-on-plant' seed-predators. Péricart (1998) reported that a number of species are associated with plant species belonging to the Lamiaceae and Urticaceae. Slater (1972) found that a number of Afrotropical heterogastrids are seed-predators of Ficus Linnaeus (Moraceae). He reported that they are often abundant on the fig syconium, which they are able to penetrate with their elongate labium. No biological information has been recorded for Australian heterogastrid species.



Heterogastrids are elongate to elongate-ovoid bugs, sometimes with an ant-mimetic appearance. The bucculae are short. The hemelytral membranes have 1 or 2 closed cells. All adult abdominal spiracles are ventral. The phallus is simple with the vesica reduced. The spermatheca is elongate, coiled and simple. The larval dorsal abdominal glands are between terga III/IV, IV/V and V/VI. (Scudder 1957; Scudder 1962; Slater 1981; Schuh & Slater 1995; Henry 1997; Péricart 1998)


General References

Ashlock, P.D. 1957. An investigation of the taxonomic value of the phallus in the Lygaeidae (Hemiptera-Heteroptera). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 50: 407-426

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

Péricart, J. 1998. Hémiptères Lygaeidae Euro-Méditerranéens. Volume 1. Généralités Systématique: Première Partie. Faune de France 84A: I-XX 1-468, 4 pls

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. 1957. New genera and species of Heterogastrinae (Hemiptera, Lygaeidae) with a revision of the genus Dinomachus. Opuscula Entomologica. Lund 22: 161-183

Scudder, G.G.E. 1962. New Heterogastrinae (Hemiptera) with a key to the genera of the world. Opuscula Entomologica. Lund 27: 117-127

Slater, J.A. 1964. Hemiptera (Heteroptera): Lygaeidae. pp. 15-228 in Hanström, B., Brinck, P. & Rudebeck, G. (eds). South African Animal Life. Results of the Lund University Expedition in 1950–1951. Stockholm : Almqvist & Wiksell Vol. 10.

Slater, J.A. 1972. Lygaeid bugs (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae) as seed predators of figs. Biotropica 4: 145-151

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

Stål, C. 1862. Hemiptera mexicana enumeravit speciesque novas descripsit. Stettiner Entomologische Zeitung 23: 81-118, 273-281, 289-325, 437-462

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


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)