This small family has not been well studied in Australia and as a result little is known of their biology and ecology. There are only 6 species of Rhipiceridae in Australia and all belong to the genus Rhipicera. Adults range in size from 10 to 25 millimetres in length and can be recognised by their large fan-like antennae. The antennae of males are unusual in that they have more than 20 segments and arise from small knob-like prominences. Most species are grey-black in colour with white spots on the elytra and pronotum, formed by patches of hair.

Rhipicera species

The larvae of Australian species is unknown and in North America Sandalus niger is the only known rhipicerid larva. This larval species is grub-like and lightly sclerotised, with conical shaped antennae consisting of just one segment. The first instar are triungulin-like, meaning they appear similar to the larvae of blister beetles (Meloidae) which are long-legged and parasitic. The later instars are ectoparasitic on the nymphs of cicadas. It is thought the first instars of Sandalus niger attach themselves to the cicada nymphs before they enter the soil.



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