Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




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Subfamily Cassidinae Gyllenhal, 1813

Compiler and date details

August 2013 - Chris Reid, Australian Museum, Sydney

March 2012 - Chris Reid, Australian Museum, Sydney


The subfamily Cassidinae is large, with more than 350 genera and 5500 species worldwide (Seeno & Wilcox 1982; Borowiec 1999; Staines 2002, 2006; Chaboo 2007). By comparison the Australian fauna is depauperate, with 15 native genera and 56 native species. However, the subfamily is found throughout Australia.

This group of beetles has a complex history, having long been considered two subfamilies, Cassidinae and Hispinae. However, it is now clear that the historically defined Cassidinae comprise an almost monophyletic clade embedded in the grade-like 'Hispinae' (Chaboo 2007). The oldest valid name for the whole group is Cassidinae (Chen 1940). This modern concept of Cassidinae is certainly monophyletic but the subfamily is of unknown placement among the Chrysomelidae: on morphological evidence possibly sister to Chrysomelinae and Galerucinae (Reid 1995, 2000); from molecular evidence possibly sister to Cryptocephalinae (Gomez-Zurita, Hunt & Vogler 2008). There are numerous tribes, mostly poorly defined (Chaboo 2007). The hispoid cassidines were catalogued by Uhmann (1958) and the cassidoid cassidines by Borowiec (1999).

This subfamily is probably the best known of the Australian Chrysomelidae. Keys or modern descriptions are available for almost all known species (Uhmann 1954, 1957, 1958; Gressitt 1960, 1963; Gressitt & Samuelson 1990; Samuelson 1989; Borowiec 1990, 1991, 1992, 1999, 2006; Matthews & Reid 2002; Staines 2002; Borowiec & Burwell 2011), distributions are well-known (Borowiec 2009) and the biology of several species has been described.

The Australian species are typical of the two types of Cassidinae: the hispoid group with cryptic spiny adults, feeding primarily on monocotyledonous hosts, with external or leaf-mining flattened larvae, pupating at or near the ground; the cassidoid group with often conspicuous circular adults and externally-feeding spiny larvae which pupate on the host. However, the biology of many species is unknown and the endemic genus and species Aproida balyi is a notable exception to the above generalisation, in that it is a 'hispoid' with a fairly conspicuous adult and larva, and the larva pupates on the host (Monteith 1970).

In Australia, host plants are mostly monocots for hispoids and eudicots for cassidoids (Jolivet & Hawkeswood 1995; Matthews & Reid 2002). However the hispoid Notosacantha feeds on Acacia (Monteith 1991). The hispoid Brontispa longissima is a serious pest of coconut palms throughout south-east Asia, the west Pacific and northern Queensland (Liebregts & Chapman 2004). One species of Aspidimorpha influences the structure of sand dune floral communities in North Queensland (Bach 1998).

Cassidoid cassidines include large and conspicuously coloured species, whose colours often fade after death, which are chemically protected by dorsal glands. Their larvae may use a cap of faeces or shed skins for protection. Some non-Australian species show maternal care (Chaboo 2007).

Several South American species were introduced for biocontrol of lantana and 4 are established (Day 2012). These are having no noticeable effect on this plant but are now providing hosts for a range of native parasitoids (Broughton 2001). One unnamed species of Cassida has been established for biological control of bitou bush (Adair, Morley & Morin 2012).



After Reid (2000). Adult: mouth ventral, usually posterior to eyes and interocular space; mandibular mola absent; elytron with an apical spine or broadly explanate with laterally concealed epipleura; wing with one or without anal cell; tarsi 3- or 4-segmented, with bifid setae on ventral surface of segments 1–3; first two abdominal ventrites fused; tegmen without dorsal cap.

Larva: not enclosed in transportable capsule; eggbursters absent; maxillary palpi 1- or 2-segmented; labial palpi 1-segmented; legs present or absent, if present with paronychial appendix on tibia and pretarsus much shorter than tibia; dorsal ambulatory ampullae absent; abdominal segments with lateral spines or flattened extensions.


General References

Adair, R.J., Morley, T. & Morin, L. 2012. Chrysanthemoides monilifera (L.) T. Norl. — bitou bush and boneseed. pp. 170-183 in Julien, M.H., McFadyen, R.E.C. & Cullen, J.M. (eds). Biological control of weeds in Australia. Collingwood, Vic. : CSIRO Publishing. pp. i-xviii, 1-620.

Borowiec, L. 1990. A review of the genus Cassida L. of the Australian region and the Papuan subregion (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae, Cassidinae). Genus (Wroclaw) 1: 1-51

Borowiec, L. 1991. On the genera Emdenia Spaeth, 1915 and Austropsecadia Hincks, 1950 (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae). Genus (Wroclaw) 2: 1-10

Borowiec, L. 1992. A review of the tribe Aspidomorphini of the Australian region and Papuan subregion (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae, Cassidinae). Genus (Wroclaw) 3: 121-184

Borowiec, L. 1999. A world catalogue of the Cassidinae (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Wroclaw : Biologica Silesiae 476 pp.

Borowiec, L. 2006. A new species of Cassida Linnaeus from Australia (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae: Cassidini). Genus (Wroclaw) 17(3): 373-376

Borowiec, L. 2009. New records of Asian and Australopapuan tortoise beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae). Genus (Wroclaw) 20(3): 435-484

Borowiec, L. & Burwell, C. 2011. A new species of Cassida L. from Australia (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae). Genus (Wroclaw) 22(2): 285-290

Broughton, S. 2001. Parasitism and predation of the lantana leafmining beetles Octotoma scabripennis Guerin-Meneville and Uroplata girardi Pic (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Hispinae) in Australia. Australian Journal of Entomology 40: 286-293

Chaboo C. S. 2007. Biology and phylogeny of the Cassidinae Gyllenhal sensu lato (tortoise and leaf-mining beetles) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 305: 1-250

Chen, S. 1940. Attempt at a new classification of the leaf beetles. Sinensia, Shanghai 11(5-6): 451-481

Day, M. 2012. Lantana camara L. — lantana. pp. 334-346 in Julien, M.H., McFadyen, R.E.C. & Cullen, J.M. (eds). Biological control of weeds in Australia. Collingwood, Vic. : CSIRO Publishing. pp. i-xviii, 1-620.

Gomez-Zurita, J., Hunt, T. & Vogler, A. P. 2008. Multilocus ribosomal RNA phylogeny of the leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae). Cladistics 23: 1-17

Gressitt, J.L. 1960. Papuan–West Polynesian hispine beetles (Chrysomelidae). Pacific Insects 2(1): 1–90 [15 Apr. 1960]

Gressitt, J.L. 1963. Hispine beetles (Chrysomelidae) from New Guinea. Pacific Insects 5(3): 591-714

Gressitt, J.L. & Samuelson, G.A. 1990. Hispinae of the New Guinea-Solomons area. II. Tribe Coelaenomenoderini (Coleoptera; Chrysomelidae). Occasional Papers of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum 30: 259-278

Hsiao, T.H. & Windsor, D.M. 1999. Historical and biological relationships among Hispinae inferred from 12S MTDNA sequence data. pp. 39-50 in Cox, M.L. (ed.). Advances in Chrysomelidae Biology 1. Leiden : Backhuys.

Jolivet, P. & Hawkeswood, T.J. 1995. Host-plants of Chrysomelidae of the world. Leiden : Backhuys 281 pp.

Julien, M.H. & Griffiths, M.W. (eds) 1998. Biological Control of Weeds: A world catalogue of agents and their target weeds. Wallingford : CAB International 223 pp.

Liebregts, W. & Chapman, K. 2004. Impact and control of the coconut hispine beetle, Brontispa longissima Gestro (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). In, Report of the Expert Consultation on Coconut Beetle Outbreak in APPPC Member Countries. RAP Publication 2004/29, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok.

Matthews, E.G. & Reid, C.A.M. 2002. A Guide to the Genera of Beetles of South Australia. Part 8 Polyphaga: Chrysomeloidea: Chrysomelidae. Adelaide : South Australian Museum pp. 1-64.

Monteith, G.B. 1970. Life history of the chrysomelid, Aproidea balyi Pascoe. News Bulletin, Entomological Society of Queensland 72: 9-10

Monteith, G.B. 1991. Corrections to published information on Johannica gemellata (Westwood) and other Chrysomelidae (Coleoptera). Victorian Entomologist 21: 147-154

Reid, C.A.M. 1995. A cladistic analysis of subfamilial relationships in the Chrysomelidae sensu lato (Chrysomeloidea). pp. 559-631 in Pakaluk, J. & Slipinski, S.A. (eds). Biology, Phylogeny and Classification of Coleoptera. Papers celebrating the 80th birthday of Roy A. Crowson. Warszawa : Muzeum i Instytut Zoologii PAN.

Reid, C.A.M. 2000. Spilopyrinae Chapuis: a new subfamily in the Chrysomelidae and its systematic placement (Coleoptera). Invertebrate Taxonomy 14: 837-862

Samuelson, G.A. 1989. A review of the hispine tribe Aproidini (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 27(2): 599-604 [Date published 13 Nov. 1989]

Seeno, T.N. & Wilcox, J.A. 1982. Leaf beetle genera (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae). pp. 1-221 in Eichlin, T.D. & Papp, C.S. (eds). Entomography, An annual review for biosystematics. Sacramento, California : Entomography Publications Vol. 1.

Staines, C.L. 2002. The New World tribes and genera of hispines (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 104(3): 721-784

Staines, C. L. 2006. The hispine beetles of America north of Mexico (Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae). Virginia Museum of Natural History Special Publication 13(v+): 1-178

Uhmann, E. von 1954. Austral-asiatische Hispinae aus dem Zoologischen Museum der Humboldt-Universität Berlin 6. Teil. Die Gattung Hispellinus Weise. Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum in Berlin 30: 96-104

Uhmann, E. von 1957. Hispinae aus dem Britischen Museum X. Teil: Eurispa. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 12 10: 769-778

Uhmann, E. von 1958. Chrysomelidae: Hispinae — Hispinae Africanae, Eurasiaticae, Australicae. In, Hincks, W.D. (ed.) Coleopterorum Catalogus Supplementa. Pars 35, fasc. 2, edn 2. Junk. 155-398 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)
13-Aug-2013 13-Aug-2013 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)