Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

J.F. Lawrence, T.A. Weir and J.E. Pyke, Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia; updated (2000) by A.A. Calder, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


Sphaeriusids (formerly known as microsporids) are minute, spherical beetles which form part of the intersitial fauna inhabiting accumulations of gravel, sand and mud at the edges of streams and rivers. They are thought to be algophagous, but may feed on detritus as well (Britton 1966). The larvae are unique in having eight pairs of balloon-like spiracular gills on the abdomen (Britton 1966; Hinton 1967; Lawrence & Reichardt 1991). Some 15 species are known throughout the Northern Hemisphere and three in the Southern Hemisphere—one species in Madagascar and another two in Australia.

The family Sphaeriusidae (formerly known as Microsporidae) is based on the single genus Sphaerius. The older generic name Sphaerius, suppressed by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (1985), has since been conserved (ICZN 2000). The group was included among the Hydradephaga by Forbes (1926), but most authors follow Crowson (1955) in placing them within the suborder Myxophaga along with Hydroscaphidae, Torridinicolidae and Cyathoceridae (=Lepiceridae) (Lawrence & Newton 1982).


General References

Britton, E.B. 1966. On the larva of Sphaerius and the systematic position of the Sphaeriidae (Coleoptera). Australian Journal of Zoology 14: 1193-1198

Crowson, R.A. 1955. The Natural Classification of the Families of Coleoptera. London : Nathaniel Lloyd & Co. 187 pp.

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

Hinton, H.E. 1967. On the spiracles of the larvae of the suborder Myxophaga (Coleoptera). Australian Journal of Zoology 15: 955-959

International Commission on Zoological Nomenclarure 1985. Opinion 1331. Sphaeriidae Jeffreys, 1862 (1820) (Mollusca, Bivalvia) and Microsporidae Reichardt, 1976 (Insecta, Coleoptera): Placed on the Official List. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 42: 230-232

International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature 2000. Opinion 1957. Sphaerius Waltl, 1838 (Insecta, Coleoptera): conserved; and Sphaeriidae Erichson, 1845 (Coleoptera): spelling emended to Sphaeriusidae, so removing the homonymy with Sphaeriidae Deshayes, 1854 (1820) (Mollusca, Bivalvia). Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 57(3): 182-184

Lawrence, J.F. & Newton, A.F., Jr 1982. Evolution and classification of beetles. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 13: 261-290

Lawrence, J.F. & Reichardt, H. 1991. Sphaeriidae (Myxophaga). pp. 302-303 in Stehr, F.W. (ed.). Immature Insects. Coleoptera and Diptera. Dubuque, Iowa : Kendall-Hunt Vol. 2 xvi 975 pp.

Yavorskaya, M.I., Anton, E., Jałoszynski, P., Polilov, A. & Beutel, R.G. 2018. Cephalic anatomy of Sphaeriusidae and a morphology-based phylogeny of the suborder Myxophaga (Coleoptera). Systematic Entomology 43(4): 777–797


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)
23-Nov-2018 MODIFIED