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 Major Groups | Insecta (insects) | Hemiptera (bugs) | Hebridae


Major Group: Insecta

Descriptive Features:

  • bucculae form a groove that houses the labium
  • eyes small, globular and coarsely faceted
  • 2 ocelli present, reduced to a pair of semicircular pits in Austrohebrus 
  • antennae appear 5-segmented (segment 4 divided), segments 3 and 4 slender in Austrohebrus and Hebrus, distinctly 4-segmented in Merragata with segments 3 and 4 short, club-like
  • rostrum 4-segmented, long, and usually reaches the metacoxae
  • body stout, dull brown, grey or green, covered with a velvety hydrofuge pile
  • pronotum has a narrow collar and raised humeral angles
  • mesoscutellum exposed, forming a plate behind pronotal lobe
  • Austrohebrus is the only wingless genus of Hebridae
  • legs short, coxal cavities widely separated
  • tarsi 2-segmented, with segment 1 very short and segment 2 much longer
  • Total length: 1.4 - 2.0 mm
  • Taxonomic Checklist: Genera

    Distribution: Australia wide 

    Sensitivity Rating: SIGNAL grade 3

    Functional Feeding Group: predators

    Ecology: Instream habitat: Nothing is known of the ecology of Austrohebrus apterus (monotypic genus). Hebrus species tend to dwell on weeds, litter and debris close to either stagnant or flowing freshwater bodies. Merragata hackeri (monotypic genus) dwells in plant covered ponds, pools and farm dams.
    Feeding ecology: Hebrus and Merragata species are predators, feeding on springtails (Collembola) and other small arthropods. Nothing is known of the biology of Austrohebrus.
    Habit: Commonly known as ‘velvet bugs’, these bugs have powerful claws to walk and climb on stems and leaves of plants. Hebrus species move very slowly on water surfaces where as Merragata hackeri is capable of running on the water surface or walking on submerged plants, staying under water for about half an hour. Adults are usually macropterous and occasionally taken in light traps or by flight intercept traps.
    Life history: The life history of Australian species is unknown. For Northern Hemisphere species, eggs are very large relative to the size of the female, elongate to oval, with a single micropyle. Females lay the eggs on moss, usually in groups in leaf axils or between closely spaced leaves. Eggs hatch after eight to twelve days. Nymphs undergo five instars in about 20 days to develop into adults. In Australia, adults may be collected throughout the year, with nymphs recorded from June to August and October to January.
    Information Sources: Andersen & Weir 2004, Cassis & Gross 1995, Lansbury & Lake 2002, Davis & Christidis 1997
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