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

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Adult scirtids are often found on vegetation near water, while the larvae usually occur in lentic habitats, such as ponds, marshes, bogs or tree holes (Kitching and Allsopp 1987), but have also been found in wet, rotten wood. Larvae are filter-feeding detritivores (Beier 1952). They use the 8th spiracles to breathe at the surface, while the anal papillae are thought to be osmoregulatory in function (Treherne 1954).


Moderate to small, oblong to ovoid beetles, usually somewhat flattened, with large, strongly deflexed head, short and broad prothorax with large, projecting fore coxae and reduced sternal region, moderately broad and complete elytral epipleura, and lobed 4th tarsal segments. A pair of sharp genal ridges rest against the fore coxae when head is fully deflexed. Hind coxal plates present except in Scirtes , which have enlarged hind femora for jumping. Male genitalia are complex and variable within the family (Nyholm 1972). Larvae elongate and somewhat flattened, with large head, multisegmented antennae (unique in beetle larvae), complex mouth-parts with maxillary comb-hairs and comb-like hypopharyngeal armature, a single pair of large spiracles at abdominal apex and a set of 5 anal papillae.


Scirtids (e.g. Macrohelodes , Pseudomicrocara , Macrocyphon ) most abundant and diverse in the cool temperate parts of Australia. Scirtes , which are more common in the North, have enlarged hind femora and are capable of jumping. [Armstrong 1953; Pope 1976.]

  • Scirtes ruforotundus