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

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A small Australian family (axeflies), closely related to the exotic Rhinophoridae and thus to the Tachinidae. Australia has 12 species of Axinia and one of Barrinea , while one other Axinia and one each of Johnismaya and Chirops occurs in New Guinea.

Practically nothing is known, except that adults come to light and are taken in Malaise traps. The structure of the female ovipositor suggests strongly that axiniids are parasitoids as larvae; but the host remains unknown. It is presumably a creature widely distributed over many habitats, but one not often reared by collectors - perhaps an isopod, as in Rhinophoridae.


The males are immediately recognisable by the great development of antennal flagellomere 1, into either an axe-like structure, or such a structure with all but the dorsal and ventral margins excised. Females are less distinctive, but the strong, dorsoventrally flattened oviscapt is characteristic. In both sexes the fronto-orbital plates are usually broad, even contiguous. Two species have females with shortened wings; in another the female is wingless and ant-like.


Axiniids are, as far as known, confined to Australia and New Guinea. Within Australia they occur in practically every kind of habitat: two species in arid desert; one in arid semi-desert; several in temperate rainforest or wet sclerophyll forest or alpine heath; and several in tropical rainforest. This ecological breadth presumably reflects the habits of some broad-ranging host taxon.

  • Axinia arenaria