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Two free manuals to help the identification of Australian plant bugs (Miridae: Heteroptera) and Lygaeoidea (Heteroptera) of economic importance available to download by NPBDN members.

Click the images to access the manuals.


The Miridae and Lygaeoidea are the largest and most important groups of Heteroptera, commonly called “true bugs”. They contain species that are major plant pests as well as beneficial predators and include many exotic species of biosecurity concern to Australia.

Miridae and Lygaeoidea can be difficult to work with because many species display significant variation in morphology between and within species. Species are usually small and fragile, and many species are yet to be described, particularly in tropical Australia. Additionally, there are no comprehensive identification keys to the Australian genera, let alone species. Thus, making it difficult for diagnosticians to work with these groups. There are also very few specialist taxonomists in Australia with the skill and experience to confidently identify these bugs.


Due to the diversity of Miridae and Lygaeoidea in Australia and overseas, it was not possible to cover all Australian genera in this project. The manuals primarily cover genera that are of economic importance (both as pests and beneficials) to Australia as well as a small number of exotic genera of biosecurity concern to Australia and a limited number of non-economic genera that represent remaining higher taxa (subfamily and tribes) recorded from Australia. A total of 72 genera from all subfamilies of Miridae, 62 genera from all families of Lygaeoidea recorded from Australia and some exotic genera of biosecurity concern are covered in the two manuals.


The manuals are interactive, making them user friendly and allows users to move between sections easily. They contain keys to families, subfamilies, tribes and representative economic genera, based on external morphological characters to aid the non-specialist user.

Each genus is represented by at least one species and each species includes colour photographs of the dorsal and lateral view. Genus factsheets also are provided to help confirm the identification after using the keys. The key headings and subheadings included in the factsheets are:

  • Genus name, author, subfamily, tribe, type species, number of Australian species
  • Distribution: Australian and extralimital distribution
  • Economic significance: as pest and beneficial
  • Hosts
  • Diagnosis
  • References
  • Interactive Index


These manuals are intended for use by people with all levels of experience, with students, diagnosticians and experienced plant health and biodiversity scientists in mind during development. The content is comprehensive to allow confident identification of complex insects to the genus level. The manuals are broadly scoped, so any mirid or lygaeoid specimens can be identified to at least the subfamily or tribal level, this includes specimen without associated host information.

Training opportunities

This project has already allowed less experienced scientists to be trained in the identification of Miridae and Lygaeoidea and develop future capability in Australia.

A national training workshop on the identification of Miridae and Lygaeoidea, using these resources, will be offered to NPBDN members once restrictions ease relating to COVID-19 and we are confident it is safe to hold such a workshop. The workshop will be advertised on the NPBDN website when details are known.


These manuals were developed after Miridae and Lygaeoidea were identified as high priority gaps for Tropical Australian Diagnostics and required tools and training (including professional development opportunities for younger scientists) to enhance diagnostic capability, particularly in northern Australia. The project was funded under Australian Government Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, Modern Diagnostics for northern Australia initiative. Further details available here.

The development of these comprehensive manuals required broad Australian and international collaboration. Many diagnosticians nationally and overseas, as well as some international taxonomists assisted with the checking of the keys and other sections of the manuals, loan of specimens and selected illustrations. The manuals contain the full lists of acknowledgements.


The manuals should be cited as:

Identification of subfamilies and genera
By M. B. Malipatil, E. G. Finlay and F. Chérot
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Victoria, Melbourne. 2020.
216 pp.  ISBN 978-1-76090-318-3 (pdf/online/MS word)

Identification of families, tribes and representative genera
By M. B. Malipatil, C. Q. Gao and L. X. Eow
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Victoria, Melbourne. 2020.
170 pp.  ISBN 978-1-76090-316-9 (pdf/online/MS word)