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


Major Group: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Hygrobiidae
Genus: Hygrobia
This family is represented by a single genus worldwide, Hygrobia.

Descriptive Features:

  • head exsert
  • eyes protuberant, well separated from anterior edge of prothorax
  • antennae entirely or almost entirely glabrous, length greater than 1 mm
  • prothorax with pair of notopleural sutures (distinct from sharp lateral margins) separating notum from externally visible pleuron on each side
  • abdomen with ventrite 1 divided into 2 or 3 parts by hind coxae
  • metasternum with transverse suture
  • mesocoxal cavities open laterally (partly closed by mesepimeron)
  • metacoxae relatively small, their lateral portions shorter than metasternum, extending laterally to meet elytra, so that junction of metepimera and first ventrite is not visible
  • metacoxal plates absent or consisting of narrow mesal portion only
  • fore tibia without antenna cleaner
  • tarsi always 5-segmented
  • size: up to 10mm
  • head large
  • legs present
  • labrum completely fused to head
  • body compact
  • abdominal tergum 8 terminal, elongated to apical segment
  • 2 long cerci (with elongated segment appears 3 pronged)
  • setose gills beneath thorax and abdominal segments 1-3
  • size:

    Hygrobia larva


    Hygrobia australasiae adult

    Taxonomic Checklist: Species
    Hygrobia australasiae Clark
    Hygrobia maculata Britton (larva unknown)
    Hygrobia niger Clark (larva unknown)
    Hygrobia wattsi Hendrich

    Distribution: N NT, E Qld, E NSW, S Vic, S SA, SW WA, Tas

    Sensitivity Rating: SIGNAL grade 1

    Functional Feeding Group: predators


    Lake St Clair in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair NP, Tas

    Ecology: Commonly known as ‘screech beetles’, Australian species of Hygrobiidae are all rare.
    Instream habitat: Adult and larval hygrobid beetles occur in stagnant water where the bottom is covered with a fine ooze of mud and rotten plant debris.
    Feeding ecology:Both larvae and adults are bottom-feeding predators with a very specialized diet of tubificid worms (Oligochaeta: Tubificidae) and/or chironomid larvae (Diptera: Chironomidae).
    Habit: Hygrobid beetles are relatively slow moving.
    Life history: Pupation, in European species, is in cells dug into damp ground at the edge of ponds and dams.


    Information Sources: Watts 2002, Lawrence & Britton 1991, Lawrence et al. 2001, Gooderham & Tsyrlin 2002. Alarie et al. 2004
    Key to Species: Britton 1981 (adults), Alarie et al 2004 (larvae world)