Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

October 2010 - Dr G. Cassis, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales


The Ochteridae, or velvety shore bugs, are a nepormorphan family found in all major zoogeographic regions, predominantly in the tropical regions of the Old World. Three genera and 68 species are known (Slater 1982; Baehr 1989, 1990a, 1990b; Zoological Record 1980–1994; Henry 2009; Polhemus, J.T. pers. comm.).

Ochterids are small, ovoid, moderately dorso-ventrally flattened, usually darkish in colour with pale markings and a soft velvety dorsum. The head is declivent and lacks cephalic trichobothria. The eyes are large and reniform, and occupy much of the dorsal aspect of the head. Two ocelli are present. The antennae are 4-segmented, visible from above, with segments I and II short, and the ultimate and penultimate segments more slender. The labium is slender, 4-segmented, and usually reaches beyond the metacoxae. The pronotum is subtrapezoidal, with the lateral margins explanate and the posterior margin emarginate. The forewing is differentiated into a corium, clavus, and a membrane with large cells. Metathoracic scent glands are present, larval dorsal abdominal glands are absent. The legs are slender and adapted for running. The tarsal formula is 2:2:3. The male abdomen and genitalia are asymmetrical; the left paramere is mostly reduced. The ovipositor is reduced and the spermatheca is well developed with a curved bulb (Kormilev 1971; Slater 1982; Baehr 1990b).

Ochterids are predaceous. Polhemus & Polhemus (1988) reported that ochterids feed mostly on fly larvae, springtails and aphids. They usually inhabit the shore near quiet waters and are often found on mudflats and sandbars. Gapud & San Valentin (1977) reported that ochterid species in the Philippines have specialised habitat requirements, and that it is common to find two to four species occurring sympatrically. They also suggested that ochterids are associated with riparian vegetation and are particularly vulnerable to habitat disturbance. Bobb (1951) reported that the larvae of some species camouflage themselves by placing sand on their heads. Kormilev (1971) reported that Ochterus Latreille species build small cells of sand in which they moult. Ochterids are cryptically coloured and move quickly, running and jumping like saldids. They lay their eggs amongst debris and on sand grains (Menke 1979).

The Ochteridae are placed in the Ochteroidea with the Gelastocoridae (Schuh 1986; Štys & Jansson 1988; Carver et al. 1991). Menke (1979) suggested that they are intermediate between the Gelastocoridae and Saldidae. They are, however, clearly nepomorphans and most closely related to the gelastocorids: both families have asymmetrical male genitalia, a 4-segmented labium, and lack cephalic trichobothria (Parsons 1966). Rieger (1976) considered the Ochteroidea to be a plesiomorphic group among the Nepomorpha.

The Ochteridae comprise three genera: Ochterus (cosmopolitan and most diverse in the Indo-Malaysian subregion, Melanesia and Australia); Ocyochterus Drake and Gómez-Menor (a monotypic genus from South America); and Megochterus Jaczewski (an endemic Australian genus). Jaczewski (1934) provided an early account of the Old World fauna and described Megochterus. Kormilev (1971) gave an account of the family, including an overview of the Oriental and Australasian species. Gapud & San Valentin (1977) revised the ochterids of the Philippines and recognised six species, three of them new, and provided colour illustrations of the species. Polhemus (1992) described a new species of Ochterus from the Seychelles, and hypothesised that O. seychellensis Polhemus may represent a vicariant species associated with the breakup of Gondwana.

The Australian ochterid fauna comprises two genera, Megochterus (two species) and Ochterus (nine species), known from all Australian states and territories. In a recent series of papers, Baehr (1989, 1990a, 1990b) revised the Australian ochterids, describing seven new species and one subspecies. He suggested a close relationship between the Australian and Oriental ochterid faunas, and that the high Australian species richness is a consequence of the refugial character of the north, west and southwest of the continent.


General References

Andersen, N.M. & Weir, T.A. 2004. Australian Water Bugs. Their Biology and Identification (Hemiptera-Heteroptera, Gerromorpha & Nepomorpha). Entomonographen Denmark : Apollo Books Vol. 14 344 pp.

Baehr, M. 1989. Review of the Australian Ochteridae. Spixiana (Munich) 11: 111-126

Baehr, M. 1990. Revision of the genus Megochterus Jaczewski (Insecta: Heteroptera: Ochteridae). Invertebrate Taxonomy 4: 197-203

Baehr, M. 1990. Revision of the genus Ochterus Latreille in the Australian region (Heteroptera: Ochteridae). Entomologica Scandinavica 20: 449-477

Bobb, M.L. 1951. Life history of Ochterus banksi Barber. Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society 46: 92-100

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.

Gapud, V.P. & San Valentin, H.O. 1977. The Ochteridae (Hemiptera) of the Philippines. Philippines Journal of Biology 6: 269-300

Jaczewski, T. 1934. Notes on the Old World species of Ochteridae (Heteroptera). Annals and Magazine of Natural History 10 13: 597-613

Kormilev, N.A. 1971. Ochteridae from the Oriental and Australian Regions. (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). Pacific Insects 13: 429-444

Menke, A.S. 1979. Family Ochteridae—Velvety Shore Bugs. pp. 124-125 in Menke, A.S. (ed.). The Semiaquatic and Aquatic Hemiptera of California (Heteroptera: Hemiptera). Berkeley : University of California Press.

Parsons, M.C. 1966. Modifications of the food pumps of Hydrocorisae. Canadian Journal of Zoology 44: 585-620

Polhemus, D.A. 1992. The first records of the families Ochteridae and Hebridae (Heteroptera) from the granitic Seychelles, with descriptions of two new species. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 100: 418-423

Polhemus, D.A. & Polhemus, J.T. 1988. Family Ochteridae Kirkaldy, 1906: the velvety shore bugs. pp. 541-543 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.

Rieger, C. 1976. Skelett und Muskulatur des Kopfes und Prothorax von Ochterus marginatus Latreille. Beitrag zur Klärung der phylogenetischen der Ochteridae (Insecta, Heteroptera). Zoomorphology (Berlin) 83: 109-191

Schuh, R.T. 1986. The influence of cladistics on Heteropteran classification. Annual Review of Entomology 31: 67-93

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.

Štys, P. & Jansson, A. 1988. Check-list of recent family-group and genus-group names of Nepomorpha (Heteroptera) of the world. Acta Entomologica Fennica 50: 1-44


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)
30-Nov-2012 30-Nov-2012 MODIFIED
15-Aug-2012 15-Aug-2012 MODIFIED
20-Oct-2010 20-Oct-2010 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)