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

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Adult melyrids are often found on flowers and a number of them feed on pollen (Hawkeswood 1987b; Schicha 1974), but Crowson (1964b) found insect fragments in the guts of adults belonging to several species. Larvae are usually predacious, but may also be scavengers (Fiori 1971); larvae of Dicranolaius villosus are known to feed on locust egg pods (Farrow 1974).


Oblong to elongate, somewhat flattened, soft-bodied beetles, usually clothed with decumbent hairs and scattered erect setae, and either uniformly black or grey (Dasytinae) or bicoloured with red or yellow and blue or black (Malachiinae). Labrum well sclerotised; tarsal claws toothed or provided with a pair of fleshy appendages; elytra sometimes very short, exposing several abdominal tergites; eversible vesicles often on prothorax, mesothorax and abdomen.

Larvae elongate, slightly flattened, lightly sclerotised, except for head, T9 and thoracic plates, and red or pink in colour (like some clerid larvae); head with long epicranial stem, no median endocarina, and lightly sclerotised gular and paragular areas, so that head capsule appears to be open behind ventral mouth-parts; as in most cleroids, mesal appendage at base of mandible.


Only two subfamilies, Dasytinae and Malachiinae, occur in Australia. Species in the former group have all been placed in the genus Dasytes , but they are not congeneric with members of that Palaearctic group (Majer 1987); most are small and grey or black, without obvious sexual dimorphism. The Malachiinae are common and abundant throughout the continent. The largest group have short elytra and are included in Carphurus , Neocarphurus , Helcogaster and Balanophorus ; males of the first three and both males and females of the last have the first segment of the fore tarsus enlarged and provided with a fine black comb. Those malachiines with complete elytra have 11-segmented antennae ( Hypattalus ) or apparently l0-segmented antennae (with the pedicel reduced and concealed within the apex of the scape) ( Laius and related genera). In Dicranolaius and Flabellolaius the scape and 3rd (apparent 2nd) antennal segments are enlarged and distorted in the male. [Lea 1909; Wittmer 1952.]

  • Carphurus sp.

  • Carphurus sp.