Rhyzobius litura, copyright Mark Gurney.

Belongs within: Coccinellidae.
Contains: Scymnodes, Rodatus, Rhyzobius, Stethorus, Scymnus, Diomini, Hyperaspidini.

The Coccidulini are a diverse, poorly characterised group of hairy ladybird beetles.

Spotless ladybirds
Published 16 February 2016

Ladybirds are one of the first types of insect most children learn to recognise. Most people recognise these beetles straight away with their bright, contrasting colour patterns and shiny elytra. Many people are also aware of the beneficial role they may play in gardens and horticulture, feeding as both adults and larvae on plant-sucking insects such as aphids. However, ladybirds are a lot more diverse than many people realise. The great majority of species in the ladybird family Coccinellidae are not brightly coloured, and many of them do not feed on aphids.

Rhyzobius cf. chrysomeloides, a typical member of the Coccidulini, copyright Mick Talbot.

The ladybirds of the cosmopolitan tribe Coccidulini are mostly small species; many are dully coloured, though some are more distinctly patterned. As recognised by Ślipiński (2007) in his revision of the Australian Coccinellidae, the group is a diverse one and difficult to define; common features of its members include pubescent rather than shiny elytra, and certain features of the genitalia. A phylogenetic analysis of coccinellids by Seago et al. (2011) did not resolve the Coccidulini as a monophyletic clade, suggesting the possibility that they may represent a basal grade of unspecialised taxa, but no reclassification of the group appears to have been proposed as yet.

Stethorus punctillum, copyright Gilles San Martin.

The most familiar ladybirds are more or less hemispherical, but coccidulin species may vary in shape from rounded to oblong, with the body convex to flattened. The Tasmanian species Nat vandenbergae* particularly stands out in this regard, being oval and flattened with relatively long legs and antennae, and at first glance might be mistaken for a chrysomelid leaf beetle rather than a coccinellid. The rounded species of the genera Stethorus and Parastethorus include some of the smallest of all ladybirds, some being only a millimetre or so in length.

*Yes, the genus name for this species is Nat. Other coccidulin genera named by Ślipiński (2007) include Roger and Robert.

A mealybug destroyer Cryptolaemus montrouzieri engaged in destroying a mealybug, copyright Cynthia Bingham Keiser.

Being so small and easily overlooked, the life habits of many coccidulins remain poorly known. Many feed on aphids or scale insects in the usual ladybird manner. The orange-and-black Cryptolaemus montrouzieri was one of the first ladybirds to be deliberately used for biological control of pests; originally native to eastern Australia, it has been introduced to other parts of the world such as the United States to help control mealybugs. The tiny Stethorus and Parastethorus species feed on spider mites (Tetranychidae), species of which may similarly cause damage to crops. But other coccidulins have more unexpected diets. The larva of another Australian species, Bucolus fourneti, is a specialised predator of ants, lying in wait under the bark of Eucalyptus trees to ambush its prey as it passes by.

Systematics of Coccidulini

Characters (from Ślipiński 2007): Dorsum distinctly pubescent; tegmen symmetrical; penis guide symmetrical; ovipositor bearing rather elongate, triangular coxites.

<==Coccidulini (see below for synonymy)S07
|--+--+--Azyini [Azyae, Azyaires, Azyinae]S07
| | | |--Azya Mulsant 1850RS15, V02
| | | | `--A. orbigera Mulsant 1850V02
| | | `--Pseudoazya Gordon 1980V02
| | | `--P. trinitatisV02
| | `--+--Cryptolaemus Mulsant 1853RS15, S07
| | | |--*C. montrouzieri Mulsant 1853S07
| | | | |--C. m. montrouzieriS07
| | | | `--C. m. simplex Blackburn 1889S07
| | | |--C. affinis Crotch 1874S07
| | | `--C. violaceusS07
| | `--Bucolus Mulsant 1850RS15, S07 [incl. Bucolinus Blackburn 1892S07]
| | |--*B. fourneti Mulsant 1850S07
| | |--B. convexus Blackburn 1892S07
| | |--B. frater Blackburn 1895S07
| | |--B. nigripes Lea 1902S07
| | |--B. nuytsiae Lea 1902S07
| | |--B. obscurus Lea 1902S07
| | |--B. posticalis Blackburn 1895S07
| | `--B. stragulatus (Erichson 1842) (see below for synonymy)S07
| `--+--Coccidula Kugelann 1798RS15, V02 (see below for synonymy)
| | |--C. lepidaV02
| | `--C. rondensis Eizaguirre 2004F05
| `--NothocolusRS15
| | `--+--NeorhizobiusRS15
| | `--+--Oridia pubescensRS15
| | `--ChnoodesRS15
| `--+--OrtaliaRS15
| | |--O. calliopsGo01
| | |--O. flaveolaGo01
| | |--O. horniRS15
| | |--O. maekliniGo01
| | |--O. pallens [incl. O. guillebeaui]Go01
| | `--O. variataGo01
| `--RhyzobiusRS15
| | | `--ShirozuelliniRS15
| | `--+--StethorusRS15
| | `--Nephaspis Casey 1899RS15, V02 [=Nephasis (l. c.)V02]
| | `--N. oculatus [incl. N. amnicola]LS96
| `--+--Sasajiscymnus tsugaeRS15
| `--ScymnusRS15
`--+--‘Diomus’ terminatesRS15
| `--Platynaspis [Platynaspidini]RS15
| |--P. cupicola Crotch 1874Go01
| |--P. obscura Gorham 1901Go01
| `--P. rufipennisGo01
`--+--Selvadius Casey 1899RS15, V02 [Selvadiini]
`--+--Brachiacantha Dejean 1837RS15, V02 (see below for synonymy)

Coccidulini incertae sedis:
Midus quadristrilatusS07
‘Pseudoscymnus’ Chapin 1962 non Herre 1935 [incl. Clitostethus Kamiya 1961 non Weise 1885]V02
Exoplectra Dejean 1836S07
`--E. schaefferiV02
Guillermo Ślipiński 2007S07
`--*G. minutus Ślipiński 2007S07
Iracilda Ślipiński 2007S07
`--*I. limae Ślipiński 2007S07
Lucialla Ślipiński 2007S07
`--*L. almeidae Ślipiński 2007S07
Nat Ślipiński 2007S07
`--*N. vandenbergae Ślipiński 2007S07
Poorani Ślipiński 2007S07
`--*P. serrata Ślipiński 2007S07
Robert Ślipiński 2007S07
`--*R. popei Ślipiński 2007S07
Roger Ślipiński 2007S07
`--*R. boothi Ślipiński 2007S07
Rhynchortalia Crotch 1874S07
`--*R. insueta Crotch 1874S07
Hypoceras Chapuis 1876S07
`--*H. mulsanti Chapuis 1876S07
Erithionyx Blackburn 1892S07
|--*E. lanosus (Blackburn 1892) [=Rhizobius lanosus]S07
`--E. albatus Lea 1902S07
Wioletta Ślipiński 2007S07
|--*W. elongatula (Crotch 1874) [=Rhizobius elongatulus]S07
`--W. subfusca (Blackburn 1889) [=Rhizobius subfuscus]S07
Parastethorus Pang & Mao 1975S07
|--*P. yunnanensis (Pang & Mao 1975) [=Stethorus (*Parastethorus) yunnanensis]S07
|--P. histrio (Chazeau in Chazeau, Étienne & Fürsch 1974) (see below for synonymy)S07
|--P. nigripes (Kapur 1948) [=Stethorus nigripes; incl. S. loxtoni Britton & Lee 1972]S07
`--P. obscuripennis (Lea 1929) [=Scymnus obscuripennis, Stethorus (Parastethorus) obscuripennis]S07

Brachiacantha Dejean 1837RS15, V02 [=Brachyacantha Chevrolat 1842V02; Brachiacanthadini, Brachiacanthini, Brachyacanthadini, Brachyacanthaires]

Bucolus stragulatus (Erichson 1842) [=Scymnus stragulatus, Midus stragulatus; incl. Rhizobius blackburni Lea 1908, *Bucolinus longicornis Blackburn 1892]S07

Coccidula Kugelann 1798RS15, V02 [incl. Cacicula Stephens 1828V02, Cacidula Curtis 1827V02, Strongylus Panzer 1813 nec Mueller 1780 nec Herbst 1792V02]

Coccidulini [Chnoodiaires, Chnoodiens, Coccidulides, Cocciduliens, Coccidulina, Exoplectrae, Exoplectrides, Exoplectrinae, Exoplectrini, Rhizobiares, Rhizobiides, Rhizobiinae, Rhizobiini, Rhyzobiini, Scymniaires, Scymnini, Siolaires, Stethorini]S07

Parastethorus histrio (Chazeau in Chazeau, Étienne & Fürsch 1974) [=Stethorus histrio; incl. S. incompletus Whitehead in Chazeau 1979 (n. n.)]S07

*Type species of generic name indicated


[F05] Fernández, J. 2005. Noticia de nuevos táxones para la ciencia en el ámbito Íbero-Balear y Macaronésico. Nuevos táxones animales descritos en la península Ibérica y Macaronesia desde 1994 (IX). Graellsia 61 (2): 261–282.

[G01] Gorham, H. S. 1901. Descriptions of genera and species of Coleoptera from South Africa (continued). Annals and Magazine of Natural History, series 7, 7: 401–415.

[LS96] Liu, T.-X., & P. A. Stansly. 1996. Morphology of Nephaspis oculatus and Delphastus pusillus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), predators of Bemisia argentifolii (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 98 (2): 292–300.

[RS15] Robertson, J. A., A. Ślipiński, M. Moulton, F. W. Shockley, A. Giorgi, N. P. Lord, D. D. McKenna, W. Tomaszewska, J. Forrester, K. B. Miller, M. F. Whiting & J. V. McHugh. 2015. Phylogeny and classification of Cucujoidea and the recognition of a new superfamily Coccinelloidea (Coleoptera: Cucujiformia). Systematic Entomology 40: 745–778.

Seago, A. E., J. A. Giorgi, J. Li & A. Ślipiński. 2011. Phylogeny, classification and evolution of ladybird beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) based on simultaneous analysis of molecular and morphological data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 60: 137–151.

[S07] Ślipiński, A. 2007. Australian Ladybird Beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae): Their biology and classification. Australian Biological Resources Study: Canberra.

[V02] Vandenberg, N. J. 2002. Coccinellidae Latreille 1807. In: Arnett, R. H., Jr, M. C. Thomas, P. E. Skelley & J. H. Frank (eds) American Beetles vol. 2. Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea pp. 371–389. CRC Press.

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