Hispines of the World


Cassidinae: hispine beetles


Hispines comprise half of the subfamily Cassidinae (sensu lato) in the family Chrysomelidae within the order Coleoptera. The Cassidinae currently consists of approximately 6000 species placed in 42 tribes. The combination of the Hispinae with the Cassidinae (s. str.) is historically recent (2002). Since the union of the two subfamilies causes difficulty in what to call the groups, the name “hispines” is still used to enable quick recognition of the genera and species of the former subfamily Hispinae.


Adult hispine morphology

  • Body narrow, parallel
    parallel-sided body
    to broadly ovate
    broadly explanate body
    ; dorsum nearly flat
    body flattened laterally
    to highly convex
    convex body
    . Vary in size from 2 to 40 mm.
  • Surface finely to deeply punctate.
  • Pronotal and elytral margins narrow to broadly explanate, often serrate
    serrate elytra
    or with spines
    body with spines
  • Head broadly
    head broadly exposed
    to narrowly exposed, sometimes hidden
    head hidden by explanate anterior margin of pronotum
    by explanate anterior margin of pronotum.
  • Mouthparts in circular cavity
    ventral view of head
    ; frons and clypeus slanted posteriorly
    lateral view of head, frons and clypeus slanted posteriorly
  • Mouthparts sometimes hidden
    prosternum projecting forward
    by anterior margin of prosternum.
  • Antenna with 3
    3-7 antennomeres
    to 11
    11 antennomeres
    distinct antennomeres, terminal antennomeres sometimes fused to form club (clavate)
    clavate antennae
    ; inserted on frons between eyes.
  • Pronotum
    with or without seta in anterior and posterior angles.
  • Elytral punctures generally arranged in 8 to 10 rows
    costa between punctures
    and short scutellar row but the punctures and scutellar rows are often modified or absent
    elytra nearly smooth
  • Elytral intervals often costate
    costate elytra
    (sometimes tuberculate
    tuberculate elytra
    ) in narrow-bodied species.
  • Many genera with stridulatory organs on head and anterior margin of pronotum (Anisodera, Estigmena (Anisoderini), Hispa (Hispini), Botryonopa (Botryonopini), Hispodonta (Callispini), Leptispa (Leptispini), Odontota (Chalepini), Oxycephala (Cryptonychini), Prosopodonta (Prosopodontini), Sceloenopla (Sceloenoplini), and Wallacea (Gonophorini)). These organs are only present in males of Hispodonta imperalis (Baly) (Callispini).

Larval hispine morphology

  • Highly variable in form and size (1-40 mm) (e.g. elongate larva
    elongate larva
    , larva with projections
    larva with lateral projections
    , rounded larval form
    rounded larval form
  • Light colored, usually white, green or yellow.
  • Live as leaf miners, between leaves or stems of host plants, within fruit clusters on plants, within flower bracts of specific plants, as stem borers, or are free-living.
  • Body depressed.
  • Antenna with three antennomeres.
  • Abdomen with 8 visible segments.
  • Abdomen often with lateral projections.
  • Last abdominal segment lacks furca (caudal fork).
  • Poorly known. Descriptions and biological information is published for about 6% (350 species in 170 genera) of the species.


  • Nearly worldwide, with more species found in tropical areas. No species have been reported from New Zealand.
  • There is little overlap between the Old World and New World faunas.
  • There is little published information on the biogeography of hispines.

Food plants

  • Most species are monophagous or oligophagous at the generic level. Adults tend to be more polyphagous than larvae. Some species feed on widely separated plant families.
  • Most species feed on monocots- in Zingiberaceae, Arecaceae, Poaceae, Cyperaceae, Musaceae, Orchidaceae, and Pandanaceae.
  • Some species feed on dicots- in Fabaceae, Caesalpiniaceae, Malvaceae, and Asteraceae. This is thought to be a recent shift evolutionarily.

Types of feeding behavior

  • Leaf-shelter building has been reported for larval Leptispa (Leptispini) and adult Imatidium (Imatidiini). The substance used to hold the leaves together has not been identified.
  • Stem borers have been reported for larvae of Anisodera, Estigmena (Anisoderini), Cryptonychus, and Gyllenhaleus (Cryptonychini).
  • Rolled-leaf feeders are found in thirteen genera in the tribes Arescini and Imatidiini.
  • Bract scrapers have been reported for the larvae of Xenarescus (Arescini) and some Cephaloleia (Imatidiini). This group is often subsumed into the rolled-leaf feeders, but since they are specialists, they should be treated separately.
  • Adpressed leaf feeders have been reported for Stenispa (Imatidiini).
  • Leaf miners are known from twenty-two tribes and over 2500 species. The shape and size of the mine vary considerably (e.g. blotch leaf mine
    blotch leaf mine
    , linear leaf mine
    linear leaf mine
  • Open-leaf feeding is rare in larvae and is only reported in Aproida (Aproidini) and Oediopalpa (Spilophorini).

Hispines as plant pests

  • Some species are economic pests, most seriously in Africa and Asia, especially on rice, oil palms, and gingers.
  • Palms are damaged by Alurnus, Coraliomela, Mecistomela, Platyauchenia (Alurnini), Aulostyrax, Brontispa, Caledonispa, Callistola, Ceratispa, Cryptonychus, Gestronella, Isopedhispa, Octodonta, Plesispa (Cryptonychini), Calyptocephala (Spilophorini), Cephaloleia, Demotispa, Parimatidium (Imatidiini), Coelaenomenodera, Javeta (Coelaenomenoderini), Hispoleptis (Hispoleptini), and Promecotheca (Promecothecini).
  • Rice is attacked by Dicladispa armigera (Olivier), Trichispa (Hispini) and Leptispa (Leptispini).
  • Gingers are damaged by Anisodera (Anisoderini); Chelobasis, Nympharescus, Xenarescus (Arescini); Hispodonta (Callispini); Platocthispa, Sumitrosis (Chalepini); Pharangispa (Coelaenomenoderini); Cryptonychus, Gyllenhaleus, Oxycephala (Cryptonychini); Agonita, Gonophora, Micrispa (Gonophorini); Dactylispa, Dicladispa (Hispini); Cephaloleia, Demotispa, Parimatidium (Imatiidini); Chaeridionia, Oncocephala, Prionispa (Oncocephalini); and Promecotheca (Promecothecini).
  • Sugarcane is attacked by Craspedonispa saccharina Maulik (Chalepini).
  • Bamboos are attacked by Anisodera (Anisoderini), Cliniocarispa humeralis (Fabricius), Sumitrosis heringi (Uhmann) (Chalepini, and Callispa (Callispini).
  • Soybean is attacked by Odontota dorsalis (Thunberg) and O. horni (Smith) (Chalepini).


Content last updated April 2014