Subfamily Cassidinae Gyllenhal, 1813
Subfamily Cassidinae Gyllenhal, 1813
- Cassidinae Gyllenhal, L. 1813. Insects Suecica. Classis I. Coleoptera sive Eleuterata, Tomus I, pars III. Scaris. 734 pp. .
- Hispinae Gyllenhal, L. 1813. Insects Suecica. Classis I. Coleoptera sive Eleuterata, Tomus I, pars III. Scaris. 734 pp. .
The subfamily Cassidinae is large, with more than 350 genera and 5500 species worldwide (Seeno & Wilcox 1982; Chaboo, Borowiec, Staines etc). By comparison the Australian fauna is depauperate, with 15 genera and 54 species. However the subfamily is found throughout Australia.
This group of beetles has a convoluted history, having long been considered two subfamilies, Cassidinae and Hispinae. Recent research supports treating the subfamily as a single unit, with the historically defined Cassidinae as an almost monophyletic clade embedded in the grade-like 'Hispinae' (Hsiao & Windsor 1999). The oldest valid name for the whole group is Cassidinae (Staines). This modern concept of Cassidinae is certainly monophyletic but the subfamily is of unknown placement among the Chrysomelidae, though possibly sister to Chrysomelinae and Galerucinae. The internal classification is in a state of flux, with numerous tribes. The hispoid cassidines were catalogued by Uhmann (1958) and the cassidoids 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; Gressitt 1960, 1963; Gressitt & Samuelson 1990; Samuelson 1989; Borowiec 1990, 1991, 1992; Matthews & Reid 2002; Staines 2002) and the biology of several species has been described.
The Australian species are typical of the two types of Cassidinae: one '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 other 'cassidoid' group with often conspicuous adults and externally-feeding spiny larvae which pupate on the host. However 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 1994; 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 may influence 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 2002).
Several introduced South American species (Julien & Griffiths 1998), brought in for control of lantana have established, are having no noticeable effect on this plant and but are now providing hosts for a range of native parasitoids (Broughton 2001).
After Reid (2000). Adult: mouth ventral, usually posterior to eyes and interocular space; mandibular mola absent; elytron with an apical spine or broadly explanate; 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.
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