What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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The seed bugs were considered until recently by most workers to be a subfamily within the Lygaeidae. We have followed the revision by Henry (1997) and recognise them at family rank.

This is the largest family of Lygeoid bugs in Australia comprising 185 described species. Rhyparochromids are primarily ground dwellers that live in the seed shadow of vegetation and feed on the fallen seeds. Some species feed on the blood of vertebrates such as possums and rats and some will also bite humans. Rhyparochromids found overseas have also been observed feeding on other arthropods.

Modifications of the wings of the Rhyparochromidae are found throughout the group. Aptery (winglessness), brachyptery (wings reduced) and microptery (wings very reduced) are common and are thought to be an adaption to a ground dwelling lifestyle. Some species also have wings that resemble those of beetles (coleoptery).


The Australian fauna contains both recognised subfamilies. The Plinthisinae is the smaller of the two, comprising a single genus Plinthisus , and fifteen species. The Rhyparochrominae comprises the remaining 170 species, separated into 12 tribes and 75 genera.

  • Rhyparochromidae (Heteroptera)

  • Ethaltomarus sp.