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

Logo: What Bug Is That? Logo: Taxonomy Research & Information Network



Mainly arboreal. Adults are often beaten from trees, and may also be attracted to light. The oval eggs are laid singly on foliage or bark, and hatch in 1-3 weeks. Larvae take a few weeks to a few months to develop; the biology of only one Australian species, Cryptoscenea australiensis, is known in any detail (Kimmins and Wise 1962). Flat, silken cocoons, often with two distinct envelopes, are spun on vegetation, and the prepupa is the major overwintering stage for many temperate region species. Larvae are short and fusiform, with the head and mouth-parts short; the jaws are almost straight, and needle-like.


Very small species ('dusty-wings'), with fore wing length usually less than 6 mm. Some species with fore wing length 2-3 mm are by far the smallest Neuroptera. Body, wings and appendages usually with white or grey wax or 'meal' secreted by wax glands on various parts of the body, so that the insects superficially resemble whitefly (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae). Antennae short and moniliform; scape enlarged; pedicel elongate; the number and form of segments can be of taxonomic value and the basal 3 segments are enlarged in many males. Ocelli absent. Wings generally longer than body, rarely shorter or with hind wing reduced, sometimes with distinct dark grey or black spotting, apex rounded; Rs 2-branched; wings held in steep 'tent' over body when at rest.

Two subfamilies are recognised:

Fore wing with 1 R--M cross-vein in centre of wing; hind wing vein Rs not branching from R very near base of wing. Larval antenna about twice as long as labial palp - Coniopteryginae;  Fore wing with 2 R--M cross-veins near centre of wing; hind wing vein Rs branching from R very near wing base. Larval antenna about as long as labial palp - Aleuropteryginae.


The family occurs in all regions, although many genera and species groups are geographically highly restricted.

Australian Coniopteryginae include Coniopteryx (9 spp.) and Neosemidalis (16 spp.). The latter is apparently an Australian endemic genus, and Coniopteryx is world-wide. Australian Aleuropteryginae are dominated by Heteroconis (12 spp.) which occurs throughout the Oriental region, and also include Cryptoscenea (4 spp.) and Spiloconis (1 sp.). Both the latter genera occur in New Guinea and the Oriental region, and one species of Cryptoscenea is shared with New Zealand. Most Australian species were included in a world-wide revision of the family by Meinander (1972).

  • Coniopterygidae larvae