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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



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Anoplura: Lice. Small dorso-ventrally flattened, wingless animal parasites. 60 species. The majority are biting lice (Mallophaga) and are found on native birds. Introductions in recent times include the common sucking and biting lice of farm and domestic animals.

Coleoptera: Beetles and weevils. Forewings modified to tough elytra or wing cases. 4,500 species. The most abundant are the weevils, carabs, rove beetles, longicorns, leaf beetles, and click beetles. Most well-known families are represented, but there are relatively few chafers, jewel beetles, stag beetles, and ladybirds. The most interesting ones are the huhu beetle and its grub, the giraffe beetle, and the grass grub beetle and its larva. Introduced species include the “cosmopolitan-stored-products” beetles and weevils and the furniture and timber borers.

Collembola: Springtails. Small wingless insects with a jumping organ. 230 species. New Zealand has a large fauna most of which live in debris at soil level. Some of the largest individuals of the order (up to 10 mm in length) occur in New Zealand.

Dermaptera: Earwigs. Elongate with abdominal forceps. 3 species. Little is known about the endemic fauna. The introduced European earwig is common in gardens and orchards.

Diptera: True flies. Two-winged insects. 1,850 species. Most of the well-recognised families are represented. Some are particularly numerous and more species are known than in Australia. Such families are the crane flies, gnats, midges, kelp flies, dance flies, and tachinids. Other families are worthy of note because of their very weak representation, viz.: beeflies, fruit flies, and louse flies. Some families are absent such as the wasp flies and March flies. Of special interest are the New Zealand glow worm and the salt-water mosquito.

Ephemeroptera: Mayflies. Delicate insects with three long caudal filaments. 20 species. Common near freshwater lakes and streams throughout the country.

Hemiptera-Heteroptera: True bugs. Sucking insects with forewings hardened bassaly. 85 species. Poorly represented in most of the well-recognised families. The largest families and those of most importance are the shield bugs, assassin bugs, and capsid bugs. Of special interest are the shield bugs, back swimmers, water boatmen, and the primitive Peloridiid bugs. A recent introduction is the Nezara or green vegetable bug. The bed bug is rare.

Hemiptera-Homoptera: Aphids, cicadas, hoppers, scale insects. Sucking insects, usually phytophagous. 300 species. Families well represented are the cicadas, leaf hoppers, scale insects, and mealy bugs. Endemic aphids are rare, but 47 species are recent immigrants and are particularly abundant. The place of the aphids in the endemic insect fauna of New Zealand is taken by the more primitive psyllids. Of special interest are the large green and black cicada and the many scale insects. Introduced hoppers include the passionvine hopper and the green hopper, both of which are indigenous Australian species.

Hymenoptera: Ants, bees, ichneumons, wasps. Usually “wasp-like” insects with stiff clear wings. 350 species. Although much of the fauna has not been studied, it appears that the order is poorly represented in New Zealand. There appears to be no endemic sawflies or horntails, few sand wasps and no social wasps, no social bees and few solitary bees. The best represented families are the ichneumon and braconid parasites. Of special interest are the blind ants, mason wasp, and the large ichneumons. Accidental introductions include the European wasp, the Tasmanian wasp, and many species of pest ants. Honey bees and bumble bees have been deliberately introduced.

Isoptera: Termites. Social insects with distinct castes; wings long and narrow. 10 species. The two endemic species are dry wood termites, and damage trees, logs and fence posts. Australian termites (8 species) have been accidentally introduced and some have become serious pests.

Lepidoptera: Moths and butterflies. Two pairs of wings bearing scales. 1,500 species. The major point of interest is the paucity of butterflies. Only 15 species occur, but some additional species have been accidentally introduced in recent years or are occasional immigrants which do not become permanently established. Recent introductions are the white butterfly and the monarch or wanderer, while the blue moon butterfly is an occasional visitor. There are no naturally occurring skippers or swallow tails and only few admirals, blues, and coppers. Moths are well represented by many grass moths, case moths, leaf miners, leaf rollers, plume moths, and noctuids. Of special interest are the monarch butterfly, the puriri moth, and the porina moths and its caterpillar – the subterranean grass caterpillar. “Cosmopolitan-stored-products” moths and clothes moths are well established.

Mecoptera: scorpion flies. Long-winged insects with a snout. 1 species.

Neuroptera: Lace wings, ant lions. Two pairs of membraneous wings with many cross veins. 13 species. Poorly represented in New Zealand. Most species belong to the brown lace wing family or the ant lion family. Of special interest is the large ant lion.

Odonata: Dragonflies and damselflies. Usually large slender insects with two pairs of large wings. 13 species. Although poorly represented, they are conspicuous members of the insect fauna and their aquatic larvae are numerous in most streams and lakes. Of special interest is the large black and yellow dragonfly.

Orthoptera: Cockroaches, crickets, grasshoppers, mantids, stick insects, wetas. 80 species. Most families are well represented but there are relatively poor numbers of species of endemic cockroaches, mantids, crickets, mole crickets and grasshoppers. The wingless stick insects and wingless wetas are important elements in the fauna. Of special interest are the Maori bug, bush cockroach, large stick insect, bush weta, cave weta, giant tree weta, true locust, and the katydid. Introduced forms are in many cases well established and include the German and the American cockroaches, the praying mantid, and the field cricket.

Plecoptera: Stone flies. Sluggish four-winged aquatic insects. 25 species. Fairly common insects around freshwater streams. Most species belong to widespread Southern Hemisphere families.

Protura: Proturans. Minute wingless soil insects without jumping organs. 2 species. Only recently discovered in New Zealand.

Psocoptera: Procids, booklice. Very small insects winged or wingless. 20 species. Of interest is the wide representation of well-known families. The cosmopolitan booklice is well established and is a pest in houses and museum collections.

Siphonaptera: Fleas. Wingless laterally flattened parasites. 6 species. Endemic species occur on a native bat and on a penguin. Cosmopolitan man and animal fleas are well established.

Thysanoptera: Thrips. Small insects with short, very slender fringed wings. 11 species. About 20 recent introductions are well established and many are important plant pests.

Thysanura: Bristle tails, silver fish. Wingless insects with long caudal cerci. 5 species. Endemic species fairly rare. The introduced European silver fish is common in houses.

Trichoptera: Caddis flies. Mothlike with hairy wings. 120 species. Abundant insects always associated with water. Larvae are an important source of trout food. Of special interest is the salt-water breeding caddis fly.

The following orders of insects appear to be absent from New Zealand: Embioptera (web spinners), Zoraptera, Strepsiptera (stylops).

Araneida: Spiders. Two divisions to body and eight legs. Most well recognised spider families are represented. Of particular interest is the poisonous katipo spider, the nursery spider, and the South Island trap-door spider.

Acarina: Mites and ticks. Small head, six legs in young stage, eight in adult. Endemic representatives belong to most suborders. Introduced forms are the Eriophyid and Tetranychid mite pests of plants, the Tyroglyphid mites of stored products, and the mite parasites of animals. No serious tick problem occurs on cattle.

Phalangidea: Harvestmen. Spiderlike, no body divisions, very long legs. Mostly found in sheltered places. Some large forms are present.

Next Part: Pests