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

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The stink bugs are the second largest family of Heteroptera in Australia, surpassed in the number of species only by the Miridae.

The Pentatomidae have a cosmopolitan distribution but are most diverse in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the southern hemisphere. The majority of the species are phytophagous (plant feeding), however the subfamily Asopinae contains bugs that prey upon other invertebrates. In North America several species of Asopinae are of value to humans due to their attacks upon insects that damage crops. In Australia the Predatory Shield Bug, Cermatulus nasalis , is known to feed upon a number of Lepidoptera such as Crambus vittellus (Pyralidae) and Asaphodes megaspilata (Geometridae) as well as the pear and cherry slug Caliroa cerasi (Hymenoptera: Tenthredinidae).

Many species of pentatomids are pests of crops. The exotic Green Vegetable Bug, Nezara viridula , attacks tomatoes, legumes and other vegetable crops in Queensland, and is a widely distributed pest throughout the world. The Spined Citrus Bug, Biprorulusbibaxbibax , is a pest in eastern areas of the Australian mainland on citrus crops such as oranges, lemons and limes.

A large proportion of pentatomids defend themselves by emitting foul smelling secretions that have earned them the common name of stink bugs. Many also display maternal care of the eggs and young, defending them against attacks by predators and parasitoid wasps.


There is a high proportion of endemism in the Australian fauna. A total of 4 subfamilies, 23 tribes, 135 genera and 360 species are currently included within the family in Australia, of which 94 genera and 330 species are endemic. The smallest subfamily is the Phyllocephalinae, also found in the Oriental region, with 7 species. The Asopinae, containing the predatory pentatomids, comprises 8 genera and 11 species. The Podopinae, found throughout the world, is represented in Australia by 11 genera and 22 species. The largest subfamily is the Pentatominae which comprises 112 genera and 320 species that are diverse in their range, habitats and lifestyles.

  • Pentatomidae (Heteroptera)

  • Novatilla sp.