Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




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Subfamily Cryptocephalinae Gyllenhal, 1813


The subfamily Cryptocephalinae is moderately large, with approximately 120 genera and 4000 species (Seeno & Wilcox 1982, plus numerous taxonomic revisions since). The Australian fauna is rich, with at least 25 genera and 554 species; the subfamily is found throughout the continent.

The Cryptocephalinae include two former subfamilies, Chlamisinae and Clytrinae (Crowson 1955; Reid 1995), downgraded to tribes. Cryptocephalinae adults are diverse in structure, but the subfamily is characterised by its biology and larval structure is remarkably uniform. Adult females coat their eggs individually in faecal material and the larvae are obligate case-bearers, the latter feature shared only by the sister-taxon, Lamprosomatinae, which is absent from Australia. Pupation is within the case, usually in leaf-litter, but in some Australian species the larva climbs foliage to pupate on grass stems or under bark (Reid 1999a).

Chlamisini has relatively few genera and species, most of which are South American (Chamorro-Lacayo & Konstantinov 2009). They are rarely collected. Adults of this tribe are remarkable for their mimicry of large caterpillar droppings. The egg, with the faecal coating, is attached by chorionic stalk to the host plant (Brown & Funk 2005). There are two Australian species plus one introduced biocontrol agent (Reid 1991b; Julien & Griffiths 1998).

There are more than 60 genera of Clytrini and hundreds of species, particularly in the Americas and Africa. The larvae scavenge in ant nests and the adults have short appendages typical of myrmecophiles. Australia is often described as particularly rich in ants (e.g. Shattuck 1999), yet it has only two, rare, species of this ant-associated tribe (Lawrence & Britton 1994).

All remaining Australian species of Cryptocephalinae belong to the tribe Cryptocephalini, a group that is defined by lacking the synapomorphies of the other tribes. In Australia this group is disproportionately large, with 11 genera and more than 450 species. Most of the Australian genera are identifiable from the key to South Australian taxa (Matthews & Reid 2002), the two remaining being confined to the east coast (Reid 1991a, 1998). There also two introduced American genera and species on the east coast: Metallactus brought in deliberately for control of Baccharis (McFadyen 1987); and Diachus introduced accidentally on Leucaena (Reid 1988). Host plants are predominantly eudicots, in Australia usually either eucalypts or acacias (Matthews & Reid 2002). Many species feed on flowers. Eggs are dropped after faecal coating by the adult females. The larvae occur predominantly in leaf litter, where they skeletonise leaves and decorticate twigs, but they may also feed on living plant tissue (Reid 1999b).



After Reid (2000)
Adult: procoxal cavity closed by insertion of sides of apex of prosternal process into apices of pronotal hypomera, rarely slightly open; without bifid tarsal setae; apical ventrites (at least 4 and 5) fused; sternite 8 without apodeme; tegmen without dorsal cap and penis apically setose; female with complex rectal apparatus.
Larva: C-shaped and enclosed in transportable capsule; 6 stemmata present; labrum fused to clypeus; spiracles cribriform; eggbursters confined to thorax; maxillary palpi 3-segmented; labial palpi 2-segmented; legs prominent, without paronychial appendix on tibia.


General References

Brown, C.G. & Funk, D.J. 2005. Aspects of the natural history of Neochlamisus (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae): fecal case-associated life history and behavior, with a method for studying insect constructions. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 98(5): 711-725

Chamorro-Lacayo, M. & Konstantinov, A.S. 2009. Synopsis of warty leaf beetle genera of the World (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae, Cryptocephalinae, Chlamisini). ZooKeys 8: 63-88

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

Lawrence, J.F. & Britton, E.B. 1994. Australian Beetles. Melbourne : Melbourne University Press x 192 pp.

McFadyen, P.J. 1987. Host specificity and biology of Metallactus patagonicus (Col: Chrysomelidae) introduced into Australia for the biological control of Baccharis halimifolia (Compositae). Entomophaga 32(4): 329-331

Reid, C.A.M. 1988. Diachus auratus (F.) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), a recent immigrant to the south-west Pacific Region, on legumes. General and Applied Entomology 20: 5-8

Reid, C.A.M. 1991. A new genus of Cryptocephalinae from Australia (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Entomologica Scandinavica 22(2): 139-157

Reid, C.A.M. 1991. The Australian species of Chlamisini (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 30: 315-323

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. 1998. Two new genera of Cryptocephalinae (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) from Australasia. Journal of Natural History 32: 1169-1179

Reid, C.A.M. 1999. Eucalyptus seedling herbivory by a species of Cadmus Erichson (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Cryptocephalinae). Australian Journal of Entomology 38: 201-203

Reid, C.A.M. 1999. Revision of leaf-beetles of the genus Cadmus Erichson, subgenus Lachnabothra Saunders (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Cryptocephalinae). Invertebrate Taxonomy 13: 1-66

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

Shattuck, S.O. 1999. Australian ants: their biology and identification. Monographs on Invertebrate Taxonomy 3: xi +1-226


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)
31-Jul-2013 31-Jul-2013 MODIFIED
23-Mar-2012 23-Mar-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)