Australasian/Oceanian Diptera Catalog -- Web Version

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[Originally] by B.V. Peterson & G. Theischinger

(revised introduction courtesy of Ian McLellan)

Thaumaleidae consititute a small, homogenous family of rather small flies with wing lengths of ca. 1.5-7.5 mm and stocky, shiny yellow to dark brown bodies. Eyes are holoptic in both sexes, and the antennae are short, with the flagellomeres slender and arista-like. Wings have a characteristic venation and can fold downward from near their bases to a slanting rooflike position much as in Psychodidae. The primarily diurnal adults are not strong fliers and frequent damp areas near the habitats of the immature stages.

This family contains ca. 130 described species in 9 genera. Those on the fragments of Gondwanaland (4 genera and 40 species) in Australia, South Africa, South America and New Zealand and are more closely related to each other than to those of the North.

The genera from the Southern Hemisphere are: Afrothaumalea Stuckenberg (1 sp. plus 1 unnamed sp.), Austrothaumalea (Australia 18, New Zealand 10 spp. SW South America 3 spp.), Niphta (Australia 3 spp., SW South America) and Oterere (South America 1 sp., New Zealand 1 sp.) . The male genitalia of Australian Austrothaumalea species resembles that of the South America species but differs from that in the type species Austrothaumalea neozealandica and the other New Zealand species (McLellan, 1988).

Larvae are amphipneustic and superficially resemble chironomids. They are found in shaded areas on vertical surfacesof rocks, clay, etc. where there is a cool film of water thin enough not to completely submerge them. They move in a typical sideways fashion with the body forming a 'U' shape as one extremity moves as the other anchors (McLellan 1983,1988).

The New Zealand larvae of Austrothaumalea lack spines on the head and plumose setae of Thaumalea species and also differ in have a pair of paddle-shaped antero-lateral spines on the mesonotum and metanotum. Pupae are equipped with long apically hooked antero-lateral spines on abdominal sternites and rows of foliate gills laterally and sometimes dorsally along the body (McLellan, 1983, 1988). Larvae of the Austrothaumalea neozealandica species group inhabit water films at the edges of steep seepages but usually not those bordering streams unless these are in steep sites where they can move away from floods. Larvae of the A. appendiculata species group larvae live in water films associated with the splash zones of rapids and falls of steep streams where the water forms films as it pours down and under boulders, again where there is a chance of escape during floods (McLellan, 1988). All the known New Zealand species are abundant during the cooler months of the year and the species that have been reared graze the surfaces of leaves and pieces of substrate ingesting diatoms and decaying plant material with its associated fungal hyphae and spores.

Pupae are secured by their abdominal hooks to the substrate obviously to save them from being swept away and take 10-20 days to emerge (McLellan, 1983, 1988).

Little is known of the biology of the Australian species. The larvae are known to be similar to those of the New Zealand species (Theischinger, 1986) but there is no record of them having been reared or specifically identified or the pupae known. For a reference to other literature on the systematics, ecology and immature stages see Arnaud (1977).
Refs: Bertrand (1954, general treatment), Bezzi (1913d, key, rev.); Edwards (1929c,rev, 1930b, descr S. American spp); Martinovsky & Rozkosny (1976, general dist.); Stone & Peterson (1981, general treatment); Stuckenberg (1960, 1961, descr. S.Afr. spp); Vaillant (1978, 1981, European dist., keys), Theischinger (1986, keys, rev. Australian spp.); McLellan (1983, 1988, rev, morph, bio, NZ spp).


AUSTROTHAUMALEA Tonnoir, 1927: 109. Type species: Austrothaumalea neozealandica Tonnoir, 1927, orig. des.
appendiculata Tonnoir, 1927: 112. NZ (NZ).
australis Theischinger, 1986: 296. Australia (WA).
barrydayi Theischinger, 1986: 297. Australia (NSW).
bicornis Sinclair, 2008: 4. Australia (Qld).
bifida Sinclair, 2008: 4. Australia (Qld).
Theischinger, 1986: 298. Australia (NSW).
cervula Theischinger, 1986: 298. Australia (NSW).
commoni Theischinger, 1986: 300. Australia (NSW).
concava Sinclair, 2008: 6. Australia (Qld).
crosbyi McLellan, 1988: 566. NZ (NZ).
denticulata Theischinger, 1986: 301. Australia (Tas); Australia (NSW, Qld, Vic).
fusca Theischinger, 1986: 301. Australia (Tas).
gibbsi McLellan, 1988: 571. NZ (NZ).
macalpinei Theischinger, 1986: 301. Australia (NSW).
macfarlanei McLellan, 1988: 566. NZ (NZ).
maxwelli McLellan, 1988: 571. NZ (NZ).
minnamurrae Theischinger, 1986: 304. Australia (NSW); Australia (?Qld).
neozealandica Tonnoir, 1927: 110. NZ (NZ).
ngaire McLellan, 1988: 567. NZ (NZ).
pala McLellan, 1988: 567. NZ (NZ).
queenslandensis Sinclair, 2008: 8. Australia (Qld).
ramosa Sinclair, 2008: 8. Australia (Qld).
similis Theischinger, 1986: 305. Australia (Tas).
simplex Theischinger, 1986: 306. Australia (Tas).
sinuosa Theischinger, 1986: 307. Australia (NSW).
spinosa Theischinger, 1986: 307. Australia (NSW); Australia (Tas).
tasmanica Theischinger, 1986: 307. Australia (Tas).
theischingeri Sinclair, 2008: 9. Australia (NSW).
tonnoiri Theischinger, 1986: 309. Australia (NSW).
uloola Sinclair, 2008: 9. Australia (NSW).
uptoni Theischinger, 1986: 310. Australia (NSW).
victoriae Theischinger, 1986: 311. Australia (Vic).
walkerae McLellan, 1988: 567. NZ (NZ).
zentae Theischinger, 1986: 313. Australia (NSW); Australia (Tas).
zwicki McLellan, 1988: 568. NZ (NZ).

Genus NIPHTA Theischinger

NIPHTA Theischinger, 1986: 314. Type species: Niphta bickeli Theischinger, 1986, orig. des.
bickeli Theischinger, 1986: 314. Australia (NSW).
collessi Theischinger, 1986: 314. Australia (ACT).
farecta Theischinger, 1986: 315. Australia (NSW).

Genus OTERERE McLellan

OTERERE McLellan, 1988: 573. Type species: Oterere oliveri McLellan, 1988, orig. des.
oliveri McLellan, 1988: 573. NZ (NZ).

This page last revised 16 December 2011