Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps

Subfamily Chrysomelinae Latreille, 1802


The subfamily Chrysomelinae is large, with approximately 150 genera and 3000 species worldwide. The Australian fauna is disproportionately large, with 47 genera, 762 valid species and many undescribed species (Reid 2006; Reid, Jurado-Rivera & Beatson 2009). Chrysomelinae occur throughout Australia.

The subfamily Chrysomelinae is monophyletic and is probably sister to subfamily Galerucinae (Reid 1995, 2000). The internal classification is untested and has remained largely unchanged for more than 90 years, but a system with two tribes seems most stable (Daccordi 1982, 1994; Gomez-Zurita et al. 2008; Bouchard et al. 2011). Timarchini is monotypic and absent from Australia. Within Chrysomelini there are three easily recognised groups or subtribes: Chrysomelina is probably monophyletic if defined by its distinctive larva with prominent lateral glands (Kimoto 1962; Takizawa 1989; Reid 1991) and, if so, is represented in Australia by a single genus, Plagiodera (Biondi & Daccordi 1998; Reid 2006). Gonioctenina is possibly monophyletic if defined by the pair of dorsal glands on most larvae (Kimoto 1962) and Phyllocharitina is possibly monophyletic on the basis of the larval pre-apical pseudopoda (Kimoto 1962; Reid 1991), but many larvae of these subtribes are unknown.

The Australian fauna includes many large and conspicuously coloured species. Keys and descriptions are available for identification of the genera (Reid, Smith & Beatson 2004; Reid 2006) and the biology of several species has been described. The largest genera, with approximate numbers of species, are Trachymela (120), Paropsisterna (110), Peltoschema (100), Paropsis (70) and Calomela (55). Few species feed on herbs and the huge diversity of Australian Chrysomelinae is primarily associated with two host genera which are also diverse, Eucalyptus s. lat. and Acacia s. lat. (Orchard 1999). Several species of the same genus can co-exist on the same host, along with their larvae (Hunt, Gullan & Reid 1996). This associated diversity has led to speculation of co-speciation between the insects and plants (Selman 1985), but host-specificity is rare and preferred hosts vary according to location (Edwards & Wanjura 1991; Ohmart 1996). Individuals have been found with more than one plant genus in the gut (Jurado-Rivera et al. 2009). Nevertheless, there is evidence that generic relationships of the beetles match planthost family relationships, giving some support to co-evolution having occurred in the past (Jurado-Rivera et al. 2009).

Several species are forestry pests in Australia, notably Paropsisterna bimaculata and Peltoschema orphana in Tasmania.

Chrysomelinae adults and larvae use chemical-secreting glands for defence against predators — the secretions produced by paropsines kill ants (Moore 1967). Such chemicals are generally synthesised by the beetle or larva. Most Chrysomelinae are fully winged, but a substantial number of Australian species are flightless. The latter tend to be small, dark and nocturnal, for example Canobolas species (Reid, Jurado-Rivera, & Beatson 2009).

Almost all Australian chrysomeline species follow a simple life-history pattern: eggs laid on host plant, larvae feeding on host leaves, pupation in soil, adults feeding on host leaves. Some species drop their eggs from the host and many feed on flowers as adults and larvae. Many species are ovoviviparous, larvae emerging from eggs as they are laid. Pupation rarely occurs on the host (Plagiodera). In Pterodunga the female parents show brood care (Reid, Beatson & Hasenpusch 2009).

Four genera and several species of Chrysomelinae have been introduced deliberately into Australia as biocontrol agents of weeds, with some success (Julien & Griffiths 1998; Reid 2006).



From Reid (2000, 2006).
Adult: without stridulatory mechanism; antennae inserted on or adjacent to anterior edge of head; inner face of mandible with large membranous prostheca; wing with only one anal cell, or wing reduced in size or absent; metendosternite lateral arms without lobes; femora without internal spring sclerite; tibial spurs absent; tarsi without bifid setae; aedeagus without tegminal ring; testes not fused within a common membrane; female kotpresse absent.
Larva: not in a transportable case; 6 pairs of stemmata; labial palpi 2-segmented; mandibles palmate; labrum freely articulated; annular spiracles; legs present, with paronychial appendix and pretarsus.


General References

Biondi, M. & Daccordi, M. 1998. A proposed new supra-specific classification of Chrysomela Linné and other related taxa, and a description of new taxa. in M. Biondi, M. Daccordi & D. Furth (eds) Proceedings of the fourth international symposium on the Chrysomelidae 1996, Florence, Italy. Regional Museum of Natural Science, Turin. pp. 49-71

Bouchard, P., Bousquet, Y., Davies, A.E., Alonso-Zarazaga, M.A., Lawrence, J.F., Lyal, C.H.C., Newton, A.F., Reid, C.A.M., Schmitt, M., Slipinski, S.A. & Smith, A.B.T. 2011. Family-Group names in Coleoptera (Insecta). Sofia, Bulgaria : Pensoft Vol. 88 pp. 1-972. [Date published April 2011: ZooKeys (Special issue)]

Daccordi, M. 1982. Chrysomelinae. In, Seeno, T.N. & Wilcox, J.A. (eds). Leaf beetle genera (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Entomography 1: 75-95

Daccordi, M. 1994. Notes for the phylogenetic study of Chrysomelinae, with descriptions of new taxa and a list of all the known genera. pp. 60-84 in Furth, D. (ed.). Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on Chrysomelidae, Bejing, 1992. Leiden : Backhuys 150 pp.

Edwards, P.B. & Wanjura, W. 1991. Physical attributes of eucalypt leaves and the host range of chrysomelid beetles. Symposia Biologica Hungarica 39: 227-236

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

Hunt, A.J., Gullan, P.J. & Reid, C.A.M. 1996. Chrysomelidae (Coleoptera) and other phytophagous insects in a plantation of black wattle, Acacia mearnsii De Wild., in southeastern Australia. Australian Journal of Entomology 35: 85-92

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.

Jurado-Rivera, J., Vogler, A.P., Reid, C.A.M., Petitpierre, E. & Gómez-Zurita, J. 2009. DNA barcoding insect-host plant associations. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 276: 639-648

Kimoto, S. 1962. A phylogenetic consideration of Chrysomelinae based on immature stages of Japanese species (Coleoptera). Journal of the Faculty of Agriculture, Kyushu University 12: 67-114, 6 plates

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.

Moore, B.P. 1967. Hydrogen cyanide in the defensive secretions of larval Paropsini (Coleoptera: Chrysomelinae). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 6: 36-38

Ohmart, C.P. 1996. Population dynamics of chrysomelid beetles feeding on Eucalyptus. pp. 263-269 in Jolivet, P.H.A. & Cox, M.L. (eds). Chrysomelidae Biology, Volume 2: Ecological studies. Amsterdam : SPB Academic Publishing.

Orchard, A.E. 1999. Introduction. pp. 1-9 in Orchard, A.E. (ed.). Flora of Australia. Melbourne & Canberra : CSIRO Publishing & Australian Biological Resources Study Vol. 1.

Reid, C.A.M. 1991. Immature stages of the genera Johannica Blackburn, Lamprolina Baly and Chalcolampra Blanchard (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae, Chrysomelinae). Journal of Natural History 25: 341-357

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

Reid, C.A.M. 2006. A taxonomic revision of the Australian Chrysomelinae, with a key to the genera (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Zootaxa 1292: 1-119

Reid, C.A.M., Beatson, M. & Hasenpusch, J. 2009. The morphology and biology of Pterodunga mirabile Daccordi, an unusual subsocial chrysomeline (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Journal of Natural History 43(7-8): 373-398

Reid, C.A.M., Jurado-Rivera, J.A. & Beatson, M. 2009. A new genus of Chrysomelinae from Australia (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Zootaxa 2207: 53-66

Reid, C.A.M., Smith, K. & Beatson, M. 2004. Key to the Chrysomelinae of New South Wales. Australian Museum.

Selman, B.J. 1985. The evolutionary biology and taxonomy of the Australian Eucalyptus beetles. Entomography 3: 451-454

Takizawa, H. 1989. Notes on larvae of the subfamily Chrysomelinae (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae), part 1. Kanagawa-Chûhô 90: 243-256


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-Mar-2012 23-Mar-2012 MODIFIED
29-Mar-2010 MODIFIED