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


Major Group: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Chrysomelidae

Descriptive Features:

  • antennae 11-segmented, no distinct club
  • prothorax without notopleural sutures, ventral portion of the notum, (hypomeron) on each side joined directly to the sternum by notosternal suture
  • pleuron reduced and concealed
  • abdomen with more than 3 ventrites
  • elytra exposing less than 2 complete abdominal tergites
  • tarsi with penultimate segment highly reduced, segment preceding it strongly bilobed and densely setose below
  • size:
  • labrum separated from head capsule by complete suture
  • legs 4-segmented (Donacia)
  • legs 5-segmented, including claw (Alticini)
  • size:



      Chrysomelidae larva


      Chrysomelidae adult

      Taxonomic Checklist: Subfamilies are included here as there is no key to genera.
      Subfamilies Genera
          Donacia australasiae Blackburn
          Agasicles hygrophila Selman & Vogt (introduced from South America) 
          Galerucella placida Baly

      Distribution: Qld, NT, NSW, Vic, SE, SA
      Agasicles hygrophila Qld, NSW (at 1992)

      Sensitivity Rating: SIGNAL grade 2

      Functional Feeding Group: shredders


      Logan Home Lagoon, Brisbane Qld

      Ecology: Commonly known as ‘leaf beetles’, the adults of this family are almost entirely terrestrial except for of a few species from two subfamilies, Donaciinae and Galerucinae. Most of the ecological information is inferred from Northern hemisphere records.
      Instream habitat: Donaciinae species are exclusively found on aquatic or riparian vegetation either above or below the water surface and Galerucinae species live on emergent aquatic plants, usually above the water surface. Adults and larvae of Galerucella placida were observed in abundance on leaves of Persicaria hydropiper in a brackish marsh. It is possible that the plant rather than the water in which the plant grows is the preferred habitat. Larval habitats are similar to those of the adults.
      Feeding ecology:All chrysomelid beetles are phytophagous with the adults of semi-aquatic species feeding on emergent portions of macrophytes and the larvae feeding on submerged roots and stems, even burrowing internally to obtain food. Northern hemisphere records show that most species are specific in their plant preferences, feeding on either a single plant species or a few closely related plant species. 
      Habit: Larvae of Donaciinae species, and perhaps adults, may stay submerged for extended periods by tapping into submerged plants to obtain an air supply. Adult Galerucella placida are active from November to March and have been collected in light traps indicating an ability to fly.
      Life history: Adults mate on the emergent portions of macrophytes. Northern hemisphere species are probably univoltine i.e. one generation per year.

      The alligator weed flea beetle (Agasicles hygrophila) was introduced to Australia as a biological control agent for alligator weed (Amaranthaceae: Alternanthera philoxeroides) which originates from South America and is 1 of 20 Weeds of National Significance (WoNS). The flea beetle has been successful in controlling the aquatic form of the weed in warmer climates but not cooler temperate climates. It has been unsucessful in controlling the terrestrial form of alligator weed.


      Information Sources: Reid 2001, Lawrence 1992, Lawrence & Britton 1991, Jach 1998, Williams 1980, Hendrich et al. 2004, CSIRO 2006, Reid 1993, 2006,  Arnett & Thomas 2002
      Key to Subfamilies: Lawrence & Britton 1991
      Key to Genera: none
      Key to Species: none
      Note: A key to genera of subtribe Galerucina is available in Reid 2001, however Galerucella is the only genus favouring wet habitats. A description of Galerucella is given.