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

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Historically, the Corethrellidae have been treated as a group within the Chaoboridae. However, the similarity has been shown to be based on symplesiomorphy (primitive shared characters) and separate family status is appropriate. They may be known as 'frog-biting flies' given their propensity to feed on anurans.

Adult females have functional mandibles, which are used in at least some species to pierce the cuticle of frogs, and to feed on the haemolymph. They have been shown to respond positively to the recorded calls of certain species of frogs. Certain species have been shown to vector anuran trypanosomes.

The immature stages of all species live either in phytotelmata, such as leaf axils, tree holes, etc, or in small bodies of water, in which they are predatory on zooplankton.


Chaoboridae differ from true mosquitoes (Culicidae) in having a short proboscis and dense hairs, rather than scales, on the wing veins. All females of Corethrella have sclerotised mouthparts with one or all feeding structures (mandibles, maxillae, labrum) toothed (McKeever 1986), with one exception, a toothless Australian species, C. mckeeveri (Colless 1994), with mouthparts that resemble the unarmed ones of males (McKeever & Colless 1991).


The family is monogeneric (Corethrella), with at least 60 extant species. Species are quite widely distributed throughout tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Fossils provide evidence of their presence in the Oligocene and Miocene periods.

  • Corethrella sp.