Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory

<i>Rhipicera</i> sp., Bush Blitz Survey, Lake Condah, Victoria

Rhipicera sp., Bush Blitz Survey, Lake Condah, Victoria


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Compiler and date details

31 December, 1999 - Andrew A. Calder, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


The Australian rhipicerid fauna contains six species all belonging to the genus Rhipicera Latreille. Worldwide the family contains five genera and about 50 species (Lawrence 1982). Sandalus Knoch occurs in Africa, Asia, North and South America. The genus Rhipicera is known from Australia, New Caledonia and South America. Arrhaphipterus Schaum is known from southern Europe, north Africa and Asia minor, Chamoerhipis Latreille is confined to Africa while Polymerius Philippi is confined to Chile.

Considerable confusion has surrounded the use of the family names Rhipiceridae and Sandalidae, and to a lesser extent Callirhipidae. Latreille (1834) first considered that his family Serricornes comprised six tribes one of which was the Rhipicerides. This group contained the genera Sandalus, Rhipicera, Ptyocerus Castelnau and Chamoerhipis (now Rhipiceridae) as well as Callirhipis Latreille (Callirhipidae) and Dascillus Latreille (Dascillidae). Lacordaire's (1857) family Rhipicérides was a combination of two families containing the genera Callirhipis and Zenoa Say (Callirhipidae) as well as Rhipicera, Sandalus, Chamoerhipis and Ptyocerus (Rhipiceridae). Emden (1924) considered the family Sandalidae to comprise the tribes Callirrhipini, Rhipicerini and Sandalini. However, Forbes (1926, 1942), pointed out the differences in wing venation and folding between Callirhipis and Zenoa that rightly belong to Callirhipidae (now considered to belong to the Byrrhoidea) and Rhipicera and Sandalus that are true Rhipiceridae (that are included in the Dascilloidea). In later publications (1924, 1931) on the Sandalidae, Emden was dealing mainly with the family Callirhipidae. Böving & Craighead (1931), on the basis of larval characters, confounded the situation even further by using two separate families: Rhipiceridae being incorrectly used for Zenoa, a callirhipid, and Sandalidae for Sandalus a true rhipicerid.

During the compilation of this catalogue it became apparent that there were two nomenclatural problems associated with the Australian species included in this family. The first problem revolves around the date of publication of Guérin-Méneville's Iconographie du règne animal de G. Cuvier (Guérin-Méneville 1844). Cowan (1971) gives a detailed account of the history of publication of this work and concludes like Sherborn (1922) that the text was issued in one block in September 1844 and that without a doubt proof sheets were being circulated prior to that date as the text is often quoted between 1836 and 1842, or 1831 as is the case with Rhipicera vetusta. When Guérin-Méneville (1843) issued as part No. 1 of his Spécies et Iconographie génériques des Animaux Articules his revision of the genus Rhipicera he erected a number of subgenera one of which was Oligorhipis based on a single species Rhipicera vetusta. This species has long been credited to Gory in Guérin-Méneville's Iconographie du règne animal de G. Cuvier. However, if we accept the date of publication for this work as 1844 then we have a situation were the subgenus is erected on the basis of a species that is not supposed to have been validly described until a year later, in 1844. This species has obviously been described twice, first in the publication that validates the subgenus Oligorhipis (Guérin-Méneville 1843) as well as a year later in Guérin-Méneville's Iconographie du règne animal de G. Cuvier (Guérin-Méneville 1844). In fact in both cases it is clear from the text that the same specimen is being described as it came 'de la Nouvelle-Hollande, Collection de M. Gory.' I have credited Rhipicera vetusta to Guérin-Méneville (1843), in the same publication that establishes the subgenus Oligorhipis. This species is now regarded as a junior synonym of Rhipicera vestita (Castelnau 1840) according to Emden (1931).

Secondly, the species Rhipicera mystacina Latreille (1819) has long been listed as if it is a junior synonym of Rhipicera femorata Kirby (1818). However it is clear from the entry for Rhipicère (Rhipicera) in the Nouveau Dictionnaire d'Histoire Naturelle (Latreille 1819) that Latreille is actually referring to the species described by Fabricius (1775) as Ptilinus mystacinus and illustrated in Drury's Illustrations of Exotic Entomology (Westwood 1837) as Rhipicera druraei Westwood. Latreille's (1819) Rhipicera mystacina is merely a misidentification of the species now known as Rhipicera femorata Kirby.

The North American Sandalus niger Koch is the only known rhipicerid larva. The first instar are triungulin-like, while the later instars are ectoparasitic on cicada nymphs. The triungulin first instars apparently attach themselves to cicada nymphs before the nymphs enter the soil (Elzinga 1977; Lawrence & Britton 1994).



Adult rhipicerids are recognisable by the highly modified flabellate antennae of the male (pectinate in female) and the presence of membranous lobes on the tarsal segments. Adults are elongate beetles that range in length from 10 - 25 mm and are usually grey-black, the pronotum and elytra marked with white spots formed by patches of setae. The male antennae are unusual in containing more than 20 segments and are borne on raised tubercles. A weak lateral pronotal carina is present that is effaced anteriorly and is barely visible from above. The base of the pronotum is crenulate. The procoxae are projecting with exposed trochantins and the procoxal cavities are open behind both internally and externally. The hind wing has a closed radial cell and the anal (wedge) cell is present. The tibiae are expanded at the apex and bear denticles on the outer edge and spatulate spurs. The tarsi are 5-segmented and a well-developed setose empodium is present (Lawrence 1982; Lawrence & Britton 1994).

Larvae for Australian rhipicerids are unknown, however the larvae of American species are lightly sclerotised and grub-like. The head is prognathous and protracted and has a Y-shaped epicranial suture. Stemmata are absent. The antennae are one-segmented and conical. The labrum is fused to the clypeus. The mandibles lack a mola and the galea and lacinia are distinct. The maxillary palps are short and either one or two-segmented while the labial palps are one-segmented. Abdominal segments nine and ten are reduced and segment nine either has a pair of conical urogomphi or lacks them altogether. Spiracles are either annular or annular-biforous (Lawrence 1982; Lawrence & Britton 1994).


General References

Böving, A.G. & Craighead, F.C. 1931. An illustrated synopsis of the principal larval forms of the order Coleoptera. Entomologica Americana n.s. 11: 1-351

Castelnau, Comte de 1840. Histoire Naturelle des Insectes Coléoptères. Paris : P. Duménil Vol. 1 cxxv 324 pp.

Cowan, C.F. 1971. On Guérin's Iconographie: particularly the insects. Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History 6(1): 18-29

Elzinga, R.J. 1977. Observations on Sandalus niger Koch (Coleoptera: Sandalidae) with a description of the triungulin larva. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 50: 324-328

Emden, F. van 1924. Zur Kenntnis der Sandalidae, II u. III. Entomologische Blätter für Biologie und Systematik der Käfer 20(2): 86-99

Emden, F. van 1931. Zur Kenntnis der Sandalidae XI–XIII. Entomologische Blätter für Biologie und Systematik der Käfer 27(2): 49-59, 107-116, 145-152

Fabricius, J.C. 1775. Systema Entomologiae, sistens Insectorum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, adiectis Synonymis, Locis, Descriptionibus, Observationibus. Flensburgi et Lipsiae [= Flensburg & Leipzig] : Kortii xxxii 832 pp. [Date published 17 April]

Forbes, W.T.M. 1926. The wing-folding patterns of Coleoptera. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 34(1-2): 42-68, 91-139

Forbes, W.T. M. 1942. The wing of the Schizopini (Coleoptera: Dascillidae). Entomological News 43(4): 101-102 [Date published 20 Apr. 1942]

Guérin-Méneville, F.É. 1843. Genre Rhipicera. In, Spécies et Iconographie générique des Animaux Articules ou Représentation des Genres, avec leur description et celle de toutes les espèces de cette grande division du Régne animal. Paris : Guérin-Méneville No. 1. 7 pp.

Guérin-Méneville, F.E. 1844. Iconographie du Règne animal de G. Cuvier, ou représentation d'après nature de l'une des espèces les plus remarquables, et souvent non encore figurées, de chaque genre d'animaux. Avec un texte descriptif mis au courant de la science. Ouvrage pouvant servir d'atlas a tous les traités de zoologie. Insectes. Paris : J.B. Baillière Vol. 3 576 pp.

Kirby, W. 1818. XXVIII. A description of several new species of insects collected in New Holland by Robert Brown, Esq. F.R.S. Lib. Linn. Soc. Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 12: 454-482 pls XXI-XXIII

Lacordaire, T. 1857. Histoire Naturelle des Insectes. Genera des Coléoptères. Atlas. Paris : Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret. Livraison 5 planches 41–50.

Latreille, P.A. 1819. Rhipicère. pp. 259-260 in Société de Naturalistes et d'Agriculteurs (ed.). Nouveau Dictionnaire d'Histoire Naturelle. Paris : Déterville Vol. 29.

Latreille, P.A. 1834. Distribution méthodique et naturelle des genres de diverses tribus d'insectes coléoptères, de la famille des Serricornes. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 3: 113-170

Lawrence, J.F. 1982. Coleoptera. pp. 482-553 in Parker, S.P. (ed.). Synopsis and Classification of Living Organisms. New York : McGraw Hill Vol. 2 vii 1232 pp.

Lawrence, J.F. & Britton, E.B. 1994. Australian Beetles. Melbourne : Melbourne University Press x 192 pp.

Sherborn, C.D. 1922. Bibliography. In, Index Animalium 1801–1850. Sectio Secunda. London : British Museum Vol. 1. xv-cxxxi pp.

Westwood, J.O. 1837. A new Edition, brought down to the present state of the Science, with the systematic characters of each species, synonyms, indexes, and other additional matter. In Drury, D. Illustrations of Exotic Entomology, containing upwards of six hundred and fifty figures and descriptions of foreign insects, interspersed with remarks and reflections on their nature and properties. New edition London : H.G. Bohn Vol. 3. 93 pp.


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)
12-Feb-2010 (import)