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 Major Groups | Insecta (insects) | Coleoptera (beetles) | Hydrophilidae


Major Group: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Hydrophilidae

Descriptive Features:

  • antennae 7- to 9-segmented, with 3-segmented club, length <1 mm
  • prothorax with ventral portion of notum (hypomeron) on each side joined directly to sternum by notosternal suture
  • pleuron reduced and concealed
  • abdomen with more than 3 ventrites
  • elytra exposing less than 2 complete abdominal tergites
  • size: up to 87mm
  • antennae 3-segmented
  • labrum separated from head capsule by complete suture
  • mandibular mola present
  • apex of mandible unidentate
  • mesal surface of mandibular base simple or slightly expanded
  • maxilla with stipes longer than wide and without mala
  • maxillary palps 3-segmented, 1st segment with digitiform appendage
  • labial palps 2-segmented
  • gular sutures fused posteriorly
  • legs present
  • size: <3 - 42mm

    Berosus larva


    Hydrophilus adult

    Taxonomic Checklist: Genera
    (not all larva known)
    Agraphydrus coomani Orchymont
    Anacaena (Paranacaena)
    Coelostoma fabrici Montrouzier
    Chaetarthria nigerrima Blackburn
    Chasmogenus nitescens Fauvel
    Crenitis neogallica Gentili
    Gentilina nitens Gentili
    Hybrogralius hartmeyeri Regimbart
    Limnoxenus zelandicus Broun
    Phelea breviceps Hansen
    Regimbartia attenuata Fabricius

    Distribution: Australia wide

    Sensitivity Rating: SIGNAL grade 2

    Functional Feeding Group: predators (larvae); shredders (adults)


    Billabong Creek on Old Coree nr Jerilderie, NSW

    Ecology: Instream habitat: Most hydrophild beetles occur in slow moving streams or shallow, still waters such as ponds, dams, bore drains and stock water troughs. However species of Laccobius, Berosus and Sternolophus also occur in fast flowing streams.
    Feeding ecology: Known as ‘water-scavenger beetles’, adults are scavengers, feeding on plants or decaying plant matter, and larvae are predators, feeding on snails, worms, small crustaceans and insect larvae. An exception is Helochares which is herbivorous.
    Habit: Most hydrophilid beetles are poor swimmers except for Laccobius, Berosus and Sternolophus.
    Life history: Hydrophilid adults are most abundant during spring and summer. Larvae and pupae occur in large numbers in late sprint and early summer (October, November and December), with numbers declining rapidly as summer progresses (early January). Hydrophilidae species over winter mostly as adults, although larvae may still be collected throughout winter.
    Males use calling signals under water to find mates. Females of some genera carry their eggs beneath their abdomen but most females enclose their eggs within a densely woven silk cocoon with one end drawn out into an elongate mast that helps with respiration. Cocoons are usually attached to emergent vegetation just above the water level or in riparian areas adjacent to water. Pupation occurs upon land.
    In the laboratory, duration of the Helochares tristis life cycle was 33-134 days; egg (5-10 days), 1st Instar larva (1-14 days), 2nd instar (5-21 days), 3rd instar (5-7 days). The interval between contraction of the pupa and ecdysis was one hour. Duration of the Helochares nitescens lifecycle was 24-33 days; eggs (5-7 days), 3rd instar larva (after 21 days), pupa (3-4 days). Duration of the Enochrus maculiceps life-cycle was 31-54 days; eggs (5-7 days), 1st instar larva (1-14 days), 2nd instar larva (7-14 days), 3rd instar larva (14-35 days), pupa (3-4 days). Single females produced 5-6 egg bags per season.


    Information Sources: Watts 2002, Calder & Wells 2004, Mathews 1980, Williams 1980, Gooderham &Tsyrlin 2002, Hebauer 2003, Anderson 1976 
    Key to Genera: Watts 2002 (adults and larvae, incomplete)
    Hebauer 2003 (adults, partial, worldwide)
    Key to Species: Komarek 2007 (Anacaena (Paracaena) adults)
    Gentili 2006 (Notohydrus adults)
    Gentili 2000 (Paracymus adults)
    Hebauer & Hendrich 1999 (Helochares adults, incomplete)
    Watts 1998a (Enochrus adults)
    Watts 1998b (Amphiops, Allocotocerus adults)
    Watts 1990 (Hydrobiomorpha adults)
    Watts 1989 (Sternolophus adults)
    Watts 1988a (Hydrophilus adults)
    Watts 1987 (Berosus adults)
    Gentili 1980 (Laccobius, Notohydrus adults)