Australian Biological Resources Study

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15 February 2002


The Piesmatidae are a small pentatomomorphan family belonging to the superfamily Lygaeoidea (Henry 1997). They are found in all the major zoogeographic regions, predominantly in the tropics. The family contains two subfamilies, six genera and about 44 species (Drake & Davis 1958; Schaefer 1981; Slater 1982; Heiss & Péricart 1983; Froeschner 1988; Zoological Record 2000–2001). The Australian fauna includes one genus and four described species belonging to the nominotypical subfamily.

Amyot & Serville (1843) first recognised the Piesmatidae as a family-group. Stål (1873) and other early workers considered the group to be a subfamily of Tingidae, because of the areolate dorsum and 2-segmented tarsi. Leston et al. (1954) and Drake & Davis (1958) recognised Piesmatidae as a family within the Pentatomomorpha, based on the presence of abdominal trichobothria, pretarsal pulvilli and specialised male genitalia.

Drake & Davis (1958) indicated that piesmatids are most closely related to the Lygaeidae and Berytidae. Heiss & Péricart (1983) speculated that they are closely related to the 'Lygaeidae-Coreidae-Pyrrhocoridae complex'. Schaefer (1975) in a review of trichophoran abdominal trichobothria suggested that piesmatids are related to Štys' 'malcid-line' of taxa. Others (Štys 1961, 1967; Kumar 1968; Slater 1982; Carver et al. 1991) regarded them as more isolated, requiring their own superfamily.

Schaefer (1972, 1981) provided a cladistic analysis of the genera of Piesmatidae. He recognised a sister-group relationship between the Gondwanan genera Miespa Drake and Mcateella Drake, in turn more closely related to Thaicoris Kormilev, than to Piesma Lepeletier & Audinet-Serville. Kormilev (1969) assigned the piesmatids to two subfamilies, the Piesmatinae and Thaicorinae, but Schaefer (1981), Schuh & Slater (1995) and Jorigtoo et al. (1998) did not accept this arrangement.

Henry (1997) established a sister-group relationship between the Piesmatidae and Psamminae (formerly a subfamily of Lygaeidae sensu lato) based on the areolate body, 2-segmented tarsi and reduced abdominal trichobothria. As a consequence he proposed the following classification: Piesmatidae: Piesmatinae and Psamminae and this classification is followed in the Catalogue.

Péricart (1974) divided the nominotypical genus Piesma, into three subgenera: Piesma, Parapiesma Péricart and Afropiesma Péricart. Heiss & Péricart (1975) described the Palaearctic piesmatid species. The genus is restricted to the Nearctic, Palaearctic and Afrotropical Regions. Thaicoris is a monotypic genus found in South-East Asia; Miespa is restricted to Chile.

The Australian piesmatine fauna includes four species in the endemic genus Mcateella. Drake (1924, 1958) and Hacker (1927, 1928) described the species; two species are endemic to Queensland, and South Australia and Western Australia each have an endemic species.

The Psamminae are a small subfamily of three monotypic genera, confined to southern Africa and India. Drake & Davis (1958) described the psammine taxa and Slater & Sweet (1965) regarded them as Lygaeidae sensu lato with uncertain relationships.

Heiss & Péricart (1983) and Narisu (2000) reviewed the biology of piesmatids. They are a phytophagous group that feed on leaves, stems and flowers. Schaefer (1981, 1983) listed their host associations with species of the Amaranthaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Cistaceae and Fabaceae. Most authors report that Australian piesmatids are known primarily from Acacia species. One of us [GC] has collected undetermined Mcatella specimens on the flowers of many new hosts, including species of Caesalpiniaceae (Senna Mill.), Proteaceae (Hakea Schrad., Isopogon R.Br. ex Knight and Grevillea R.Br.) and Santalaceae (Exocarpos Labill.). These data suggest that Schaefer's (1983) speculations on the evolution of host relationships of piesmatids require review.

Drake & Davis (1958) gave an account of the biology of some of the North American species and recorded Piesma cinereum as a vector of viral diseases of sugar beets. Narisu (2000) discussed the bionomics of economically important species. No Australian piesmatid species has been considered to have economic importance.



Piesmatids (excluding the psammines) are small compact bugs, usually less than 5 mm in length. They resemble tingids superficially, with the thoracic nota and hemelytra having a reticulate and densely punctate pattern. The head is transverse and the eyes are contiguous with the pronotum. The bucculae are well developed. The ocelli are usually present, but can be obsolete in brachypterous forms. The mandibular plates are strongly produced and at least reach the apex of the clypeus. The antennae and labium are 4-segmented. The pronotum is subquadrate, without a collar, but with the calli distinct. The larvae and adults have dorsal abdominal glands (terga III/IV and IV/V) that remain functional in the adults. The metathoracic glands are absent. The tarsi are 2-segmented. The abdominal trichobothria are reduced with a single trichobothrium placed anteriad to the spiracle on sterna V and VI. All abdominal spiracles are dorsal. Two Malpighian tubules open into the anterior end of the rectum. (Drake & Davis 1958; Slater 1982; Heiss & Péricart 1983; Schuh & Slater 1995; Henry 1997)


General References

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.

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.

Drake, C.J. 1924. A new genus and species of Piesmidae (Hemip.). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 26: 85-86

Drake, C.J. 1958. A new Australian piesmid (Hemiptera). Proceedings of the Royal Entomological Society of London B 27: 46-48

Drake, C.J. & Davis, N.T. 1958. The morphology and systematics of the Piesmatidae (Hemiptera), with keys to world genera and American species. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 51: 567-581

Froeschner, R.C. 1988. Piesmatidae. pp. 605-607 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.

Hacker, H. 1927. New Tingitoidea (Hemiptera) in the Queensland Museum. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 9: 19-32 pls VI-X

Hacker, H. 1928. New species and records of Australian Tingitoidea (Hemiptera). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 9: 174-188 pls XX-XXIII

Heiss, E. & Péricart, J. 1975. Introduction à une révision des Piesma paléarctiques. Étude du matérial-type; éstablissement de diverses synonymies et de nouveaux regroupements (Hemiptera Piesmatidae). Annales de la Société Entomologique de France N.S. 11(3): 517-540

Heiss, E. & Péricart, J. 1983. Revision of Palaearctic Piesmatidae (Heteroptera). Mitteilungen der Münchener Entomologischen Gesellschaft 73: 61-171

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

Jorigtoo, N., Schaefer, C.W. & Lockwood, J.A. 1998. Stridulatory apparatus of Piesma Le Peletier & Serville (Hemiptera: Piesmatidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 91(6): 848-851

Kormilev, N.A. 1969. Thaicorinae, n. subfam. from Thailand. (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Piesmatidae). Pacific Insects 11: 645-648

Kumar, R. 1968. Aspects of the morphology and relationships of the superfamilies Lygaeoidea, Piesmatoidea and Pyrrhocoroidea (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). Entomologist's Monthly Magazine 103: 251-261

Leston, D., Pendergrast, J.G. & Southwood, T.R.E. 1954. Classification of the terrestrial Heteroptera (Geocorisae). Nature (London) 174: 91-92

Narisu 2000. Ash-Gray Leaf Bugs (Piesmatidae). pp. 265-270 in Schaefer, C.W. & Panizzi, A.R. (eds). Heteroptera of Economic Importance. Boca Raton : CRC Press 828 pp.

Péricart, J. 1974. Subdivision du genre Piesma (Hem. Piesmatidae) et remarques diverses. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France NS 10: 51-58

Schaefer, C.W. 1972. A cladistic analysis of Piesmatinae. (Hemiptera: Heteroptera-Piesmatidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 65: 1258-1261

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

Schaefer, C.W. 1981. Improved cladistic analysis of Piesmatidae and consideration of known host plants. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 74: 536-539

Schaefer, C.W. 1983. Host plants and morphology of the Piesmatidae and Podopinae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera): further notes. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 76: 134-137

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.

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.

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

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

Štys, P. 1961. Morphology of the abdomen and female ectodermal genitalia of the trichophorous Heteroptera and bearing on their classification. Transactions of the 11th International Congress of Entomology 1: 37-43

Štys, P. 1967. Monograph of Malcinae, with reconsideration of morphology and phylogeny of related groups. (Heteroptera, Malcidae). Acta Entomologica Musei Nationalis Pragae 37: 351-516


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)