Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


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15 February 2002


The Rhopalidae or scentless plantbugs are a cosmopolitan family of coreoid bugs comprising 21 genera and 209 species (Chopra 1967, Schaefer & Chopra 1982, Schuh & Slater 1995, Schaefer & Kotulski 2000, Zoological Record 1982–2001, Henry 2009). The Australian fauna is represented by two genera and seven species.

Amyot & Serville (1843) first recognised rhopalids as a family. Stål (1873) established the basis of the modern classification, recognising four divisions (Harmostaria, Corizaria, Myrmaria and Serinetharia). Chopra (1967) reviewed the history of the group and proposed the following classification: Rhopalinae (Niesthreini, Rhopalini, Chorosomini, Harmostini, Maccevethini, Corizomorphini) and Serinethinae. Göllner-Scheiding (1983) followed this arrangement.

Chopra (1967) also provided a phylogeny of rhopalids and reviewed their morphology. Schaefer & Chopra (1982) gave a phylogeny of the suprageneric groups of the Rhopalidae, recognising the Rhopalinae as a paraphyletic group, and establishing a sister-group relationship between the Rhopalinae: Maccevethini and Serinethinae. Schaefer (1993, 1994) maintained these arrangements in subsequent works. Li & Zheng (1994) also conducted a phylogenetic analysis of the Rhopalidae and proposed the following classification: Rhopalini and Serinethini. In the Catalogue, we recognise these two taxa at subfamilial rank as follows: Rhopalinae and Serinethinae. No tribal classification is used in the Catalogue.

Göllner-Scheiding (1983) catalogued the rhopalids of the world. Lethierry & Severin (1894) and Stål (1870, 1873) are important early references to the world fauna. Regional catalogues include: Froeschner (1981—Ecuador, 2000—Panama) and Henry (1988—Nearctic Region). Stonedahl & Dolling (1991) listed key taxonomic works. Gross (1960) revised the Australian and Indo-Pacific species of Leptocoris Hahn. Moulet (1995) revised the Mediterranean fauna and provides species descriptions, ecological notes and host associations. Linnavuori (1987) reviewed the distribution of rhopalids from west and central Africa. Göllner-Scheiding (1975, 1976, 1980, 1984) revised several rhopalid genera.

Both subfamilies are found in the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Schaefer & Kotulski (2000) reported that Rhopalinae are most diverse in the Palaearctic Region and Serinethinae are more tropical in distribution. Some of the suprageneric groups exhibit unusual disjunct distributions that are not consistent with vicariant explanations (Schaefer 1994; Schuh & Slater 1995).

Liorhyssus Stål (1 species) and Leptocoris Hahn (6 species) are the only known genera in Australia. Gross (1960) revised Leptocoris and recognised five species from Australia, three of which are also known from the Oriental Region, Micronesia and Melanesia. Leptocoris subrufescens (Kirby) is known only from Christmas Island. The tramp species Liorhyssus hyalinus has a cosmopolitan distribution and the nominotypical subspecies is found in eastern and southern Australia.

Schaefer & Kotulski (2000) reviewed the biology of rhopalids. They are known to feed on ripe and unripe seeds, but are not known to be economic pests of any significance. Kumar (1966) discussed the biology of the Australian species, Leptocoris mitellatus Bergroth. He found it feeding on the ripe seeds of Geijera parviflora Lindl. (Rutaceae) and Alectryon tomentosus (F.Muell.)Radlk (Sapindaceae). He also described the immature stages. Carroll et al. (2005) published a paper on the ecology of Leptocoris and recorded Leptocoris isolates from Australia for the first time.

Schaefer & Chopra (1982) listed the host plants of Rhopalidae and concluded that rhopalids prefer plants of the angiosperm subclasses Rosidae and Asteridae. They suggested that Rhopalinae feed on a wider variety of plants than Serinethinae which are commonly associated with Sapindaceae.

The Australian rhopalid species are known from several host plant families. Most of the Australian serinethines are known from sapindaceous plants but have also been recorded from plants belonging to the Mimosaceae, Moraceae, Polygonaceae, Solanaceae and Rutaceae. Liorhyssus hyalinus hyalinus (Rhopalinae) has been recorded from plant species in the Asteraceae, Euphorbiaceae and Malvaceae.



Rhopalids are medium-sized to large bugs, usually robust, and elongate in shape. The head has the clypeus surpassing the jugae. Two ocelli are present on raised tubercles. The external efferent system of the metathoracic glands is usually obsolete or reduced. The hemelytral membrane has numerous veins. Abdominal trichobothria are present in a straight line on sterna IV, V and VI, and obliquely placed on sterna VII. The ovipositor is plate-like. (Chopra 1967; Schaefer & Chopra 1982; Slater 1982; Schuh & Slater 1995)


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.

Carroll, S.P., Loye, J.E., Dingle, H., Mathieson, M. & Zalucki, M.P. 2005. Ecology of Leptocoris Hahn (Hemiptera: Rhopalidae) soapberry bugs in Australia. Australian Journal of Entomology 44(4): 344-353

Chopra, N.P. 1967. The higher classification of the family Rhopalidae (Hemiptera). Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London 119: 363-399

Froeschner, R.C. 1981. Heteroptera or true bugs of Ecuador: a partial catalog. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 1981(322): iv 1-147

Froeschner, R.C. 2000. True Bugs (Heteroptera) of Panama: A synoptic catalog as a contribution to the study of Panamanian biodiversity. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 62: ii 1-393

Göllner-Scheiding, U. 1975. Revision der Gattung Strictopleurus Stål, 1972 (Heteroptera, Rhopalidae). Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift NF 22: 1-60

Göllner-Scheiding, U. 1976. Revision der Gattung Liorhyssus Stål, 1870. (Heteroptera, Rhopalidae). Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift NF 23: 181-206

Göllner-Scheiding, U. 1980. Revision des afrikanischen Arten sowie Bemerkungen zu weiteren Arten der Gattungen Leptocoris Hahn, 1833, und Boisea Kirkaldy, 1910. Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift NF 27: 103-148

Göllner-Scheiding, U. 1983. General-Katalog der Familie Rhopalidae (Heteroptera). Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum in Berlin 59: 37-189

Göllner-Schieding, U. 1984. Ergänsugen su den Gattungen Liorhyssus Stål, 1870, Niesthrea Spinola, 1837, und Rhopalus Schilling, 1827 (Heteroptera, Rhopalidae). Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum in Berlin 60: 115-121

Gross, G.F. 1960. A revision of the genus Leptocoris Hahn (Heteroptera: Coreidae: Rhopalinae) from the Indo-Pacific and Australian regions. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 13: 403-451 pl. XLVIII

Henry, T.J. 1988. Rhopalidae. pp. 652-664 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.

Kumar, R. 1966. Studies on the biology, immature stages, and relative growth of some Australian bugs of the superfamily Coreoidea (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). Australian Journal of Zoology 14: 895-991

Lethierry, L. & Severin, G. 1894. Catalogue Général des Hémiptères. Tome II. Hétéroptères Coreidae, Berytidae, Lygaeidae, Pyrrhocoridae. Bruxelles : F. Hayez 277 pp.

Li, X. & Zheng, L. 1994. A preliminary study on the phylogeny of Rhopalidae (Hemiptera: Coreoidea). Acta Zootaxonomica Sinica 19: 78-89 [In Chinese, English summary]

Linnavuori, R. 1987. Alydidae, Stenocephalidae and Rhopalidae of West and Central Africa. Acta Entomologica Fennica 49: 1-36

Moulet, P. 1995. Hémiptères Coreoidea (Coreidae, Rhopalidae, Alydidae), Pyrrhocoridae, Stenocephalidae, Euro-Méditerranéens. Faune de France 81: v 1-336

Schaefer, C.W. 1993. Origins of New World Rhopalinae (Hemiptera: Rhopalinae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 86: 127-133

Schaefer, C.W. 1994. The tribal placement of Xenogenus (Hemiptera: Rhopalidae: Rhopalinae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 96(4): 723-725

Schaefer, C.W. & Chopra, N.P. 1982. Cladistic analysis of the Rhopalidae, with a list of food plants. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 75: 224-233

Schaefer, C.W. & Kotulski, J. 2000. Scentless Plant Bugs (Rhopalidae). pp. 309-319 in Schaefer, C.W. & Panizzi, A.R. (eds). Heteroptera of Economic Importance. Boca Raton : CRC Press 828 pp.

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.

Stål, C. 1870. Enumeratio Hemipterorum. Bidrag till en förteckning öfver aller hittills kända Hemiptera, jemte systematiska meddelanden. 1. Kongliga Svenska Vetenskaps-Academiens Nya Handlingar, Stockholm n.f. 9(1): 1-232

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

Stonedahl, G.M. & Dolling, W.R. 1991. Heteroptera identification: a reference guide, with special emphasis on economic groups. Journal of Natural History 25: 1027-1066


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)