Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory

Acrotelsella devriesiana

Acrotelsella devriesiana


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

G.B. Smith, Bayer Australia Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


The Lepismatidae are a cosmopolitan family found in the warmer parts of all zoogeographic regions. They are most often collected in drier habitats and are very common in low rainfall areas. The family is relatively homogeneous with over 200 species described in 34 genera. Mendes (1991) tentatively proposed six subfamilies.

Paclt (1967) reviewed the world literature in great detail. Recent works by Mendes, Irish and Bach de Roca have added many new genera and species. The Australian fauna, with 15 described species from seven genera, is not well known. Womersley (1939) reviewed the Australian fauna, but species in undescribed genera have since been collected. Heterolepisma and Acrotelsella species dominate the fauna. Irish is currently revising the Australian Acrotelsella species and comments that other genera, including Xenolepisma, are represented in Australian collections.

Lepismatids are small to medium in size (5–21 mm), somewhat flattened and tapering posteriorly. The body is covered in scales, and setae may be arranged into brushes or combs which provide useful taxonomic features. Antennae are generally 0.5 to 2 times head and body length; cerci and appendix dorsalis are subequal and also usually quite long, although in some species they are very short. The legs are quite long due to the enlarged coxae but lie flattened and folded beneath the body. The coxae slot into cavities between the plate-like sterna and the body. The number of abdominal styli is usually reduced to a few pairs and exsertile vesicles are absent. Compound eyes are present but somewhat reduced. Ocelli are absent. Juveniles resemble the adults.

Lepismatids are generally collected in leaf litter, under stones or logs, and in nests of mammals, birds or other insects. Some species are inquilines with ants or termites and several species have become common household pests. Sweetman (1938) and Lindsay (1940) described the biology of two peridomestic species.

The nomenclature of the genus Thermobia and its type species is still a subject of confusion; there appears to be little reason not to accept the long forgotten senior synonym Lepismodes Newman (and its type species Lepismodes inquilinus Newman, 1863) as the valid name. This case is to be referred to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature for a ruling. The existing usage of Thermobia Bergroth, however, is used in this work, following Irish (1988).


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)
20-Jan-2016 LEPISMATIDAE 13-Jan-2016 REVIEWED Lyn Randall
04-Feb-2015 LEPISMATIDAE 03-Feb-2015 REVIEWED Dr Federica Turco
07-Aug-2012 07-Aug-2012 MOVED
12-Feb-2010 (import)