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

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Both adults and larvae are carnivorous, feeding mainly on the larvae of other insects. They are commonly found in carrion, dung and decaying vegetable matter or under bark of dying or dead trees, where they usually prey on fly larvae. Some species (in Teretriini, Trypeticini and Niponiinae) inhabit the burrows of wood-boring insects, such as Bostrichidae and scolytine weevils; some Saprinini and Histerini may be found in carrion and dung; Hypocaccus , Halacritus and some Saprinus are common in beach drift; and Hololepta and Platysoma occur under bark. The myrmecophilous chlamydopsines have setose secretory structures (trichomes) which apparently produce an appeasement substance (Wilson 1971) necessary for their acceptance within ant colonies. [Froggatt 1927; J. C. M. Gardner 1930; Hinton 1945b; Mazur 1984.]


Although adults vary considerably in shape, histerids are relatively easy to recognise by their compact form, deeply inserted head, large, transverse fore coxae, dentate fore tibiae, antennae which are almost always geniculate and have a compact, pilose club, and elytra which have 6 or fewer striae and are truncate, exposing 1 or 2 abdominal tergites. Most are black, glabrous and shiny, but some Saprinus are metallic green, Chlamydopsinae are often red and may have erect setae or setal tufts, and Epiechinus are clothed with scale-like setae. The body is usually oblong to ovoid or globose, but some histerids ( Trypeticus , Niponius ) are elongate and cylindrical, while others ( Hololepta , Platysoma ) are strongly flattened. Larvae resemble those of Hydrophilidae in general form and head structure, but they have a full set of functional, biforous spiracles, a penicillus of hairs at the base of each mandible, and (almost always) 2-segmented urogomphi, and they lack an apical respiratory chamber and have either no stemmata or only 1 pair.

  • Saprinus sp.