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

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A small but widespread family of ectoparasites of bats, with a grotesque, spider-like appearance. Ten species are recorded from Australia, in some three genera. It has been argued that Cyclopodia spp . (on fruit bats) represent an independently evolved taxon.

As in Streblidae, the adults are blood-suckers, free-living in the bats' fur. Also, as in that family, females give birth to fully developed larvae, but these are glued to the wall of the bats' roost where they pupate. Emergence of the adult is triggered by warmth of or contact with a bat in the near vicinity. Most species seem to be host-specific. Genera within the family are all wingless.


Adaptation to the ectoparasitic habit is extreme: wings are completely absent, legs and claws very strongly developed, eyes reduced or absent, and body flattened - especially the thorax, which is anterodorsally grooved to receive the extraordinary, backwardly flexed head.


Nycteribiids are found wherever suitable hosts occur and almost all our species occur also in New Guinea and/or Indonesia. Basilia falcozi (Musgrave) is widely distributed on cave-dwelling bats and Cyclopodia albertisii Rond. on flying foxes.

  • Nycteribiidae flies (Bat flies) on their host