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

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This family, commonly called monkey grasshoppers, is considered in the broad sense (not Kevan 1982) and includes two Australian subfamilies.


Antenna with one or more of the distal segments bearing a small tubercle on ventral surface; hind legs with femur, at rest, rotated so that its outer surface faces substrate with the tibia flexed against it. Fore wing (when fully developed) with CuA unbranched; hind wing with M unbranched, CuA reduced, and an ambient vein around the anal area. Abdominal spiracles located in pleural membrane. Auditory tympanum absent. Male genitalia (see Dirsh 1961; Key 1976) very diverse. Hind gut with 6 caeca in some groups (see Grant and Rentz 1967).


The Morabinae are represented in Australia by some 40 genera containing over 250 species in several tribes. Key's (1976, 1977) generic classification was based primarily on genitalia. All known species are apterous. They are mostly found on trees and bushes but many species are found in association with grasses. Some appear host specific, others are associated with distinct kinds of habitat. Chromosome numbers range from 2n [male] = 13-21 and include two large metacentric pairs, the AB and CD chromosomes, or their transformation products resulting from dissociations, fusions, inversions or translocations. Blackith and Blackith (1967, 1969b) studied the anatomy and physiology of the Morabinae and discussed variation (1969c) in anatomical characters and have made observations on various other biological topics (1969a). Blackith and Blackith (1969a) reared Perilitus morabinarum (Braconidae), the first hymenopteran recorded as a primary parasite of any grasshopper or locust. A tachinid, Myothyria fergusoni , is a common parasite of morabines and certain acridoids. White and Contreras (1979, 1981) reported on the cytogenetics of the parthenogenetic Warramaba virgo and its bisexual relatives and its probable origins. Mesa and Ferreira (1981) used chromosomes to hypothesise that the South American Proscopiidae and Australian Morabinae have had a common ancestor. The works by White (1977, 1979, 1981, 1982) on population genetics in tandem with the taxonomic studies of Key (1977, 1979, 1981, 1982a, b) are classics in speciation literature.

The Biroellinae consist of a single described genus with about 30 species mostly from New Guinea but with good representation in tropical Australia. The subfamily has been elevated to a family (Gomphomastacidae) by some authors. It is recognised, in addition to the characters given in the key, by having the antennae short and filiform and with 11-14 segments. The hind tibiae have only one inner and one outer apical, articulated spur; the 2nd inner spur is reduced; the 2nd outer spur is vestigial or lacking. The hind metatarsi are virtually unarmed, or slightly tuberculate dorsally. The male cerci characteristically have long, narrow, upwardly directed apical teeth. No comprehensive taxonomic work has been done on the subfamily but White (1975) studied the karyotypes of one species from Cape York Peninsula and two from Papua New Guinea. The Cape York species has 2n [male] = 17 karyotype which resembles those of many morabine species whereas the New Guinea examples had little in common with any morabine.

  • Eumastacidae

  • matchstick grasshopper, 14mm