Australian Biological Resources Study

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15 February 2002


The Termitaphididae are a small tropicopolitan family of aradoid bugs, comprising two genera and nine species (Slater 1982; Schuh & Slater 1995). These rare bugs are inquilines in termite nests and have highly specialised morphology. The family is represented in the Australian fauna by one species.

Wasmann (1902) described the first species of termitaphidid, placing it in the Homoptera. Silvestri (1911) first recognised them as a suprageneric group. Myers (1924) established the relationship between termitaphidids and aradids on the basis of the elongate labial stylets. Poinar & Doyen (1992) described a termitaphidid from Chiapas amber.

Termitaradus Myers is the most diverse and broadly distributed genus, being found in the Caribbean, Central America, northern South America, India, Australia and Africa. The genus is represented in Australia by Termitaradus australiensis Mjöberg, which occurs in coastal areas of Queensland and New South Wales. Termitaphis Wasmann, the other termitaphidid genus, is restricted to Colombia.

Little is known of the biology of members of the family. All species have been found in association with termites (Usinger 1942; Schuh & Slater 1995). Myers (1932) described the biology of Termitaradus jamaicensis Myers, which is found in colonies of Heterotermes convexinotatus (Snyder). The Australian species, T. australiensis, is found in the nests of Coptotermes acinaciformis Froggatt (Carver et al. 1991).

China (1931) suggested that the elongate mouthparts are indicative of mycetophagy. Usinger (1942) speculated that termitaphidids feed on fungi associated with termite galleries. The scale-like body is thought to provide protection. These bugs are also thought to be negatively phototropic and strongly thigmotropic (Myers 1932).



Termitaphidids are very small bugs, between 2 to 3 mm in length. The body is ovoid and dorsoventrally flattened, with flattened lateral plates, and is covered with globose setae. Eyes, ocelli and wings are absent. The labium encloses coiled elongate stylets. The antennae are geniculate. Adult metathoracic glands and larval abdominal glands are absent. The legs are reduced and not visible from above. No ovipositor is present. (Usinger 1942; Slater 1982; Carver et al. 1991; Schuh & Slater 1995)


General References

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.

China, W.E. 1931. Morphological parallelism in the structure of the labium in the Hemipterous Coptosomoides, gen. nov., and Bozius, Dist., in connection with mycetophagous habits. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 10 7: 281-286

Myers, J.G. 1924. On the systematic position of the family Termitaphididae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera), with a description of a new genus and species from Panama. Psyche (Cambridge) Camb. 31: 259-278

Myers, J.G. 1932. Observations on the family Termitaphididae (Hemiptera-Heteroptera) with the description of a new species from Jamaica. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 10 9: 366-372

Poinar, G. Jr & Doyen, J.T. 1992. A fossil termite bug, Termitaradus protera sp.n. (Hemiptera: Termitaphididae), from Mexican amber. Entomologica Scandinavica 23: 89-93

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.

Silvestri, F. 1911. Sulla posizione sistematica del genere Termitaphis Wasm. con descrizione de due specie nuove. Bollettino del Laboratorio Zoologico, Portici 5: 231-236

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.

Usinger, R.L. 1942. Revision of the Termitaphididae (Hemiptera). Pan-Pacific Entomologist 18: 155-159

Wasmann, E. 1902. Species novae insectorum termitophilarum ex America meridionali. Entomologisk Tidskrift 45: 75-107


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)