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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Enicocephalidae (gnat bugs)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Phylum: Arthopoda > Mandibulata > Atelocerata > Panhexapoda > Hexapoda > Insecta (insects) > Dicondyla > Pterygota > Metapterygota > Neoptera > Eumetabola > Paraneoptera > Condylognatha > Hemiptera (bugs) > Heteroptera > Enicocephalomorpha > Enicocephaloidea

Live mainly under stones, in leaf litter, under bark or in rotting logs, where they are predators of other insects and arthropods. They look superficially similar to assassin bugs (Reduviidae) but are not related to them at all. They can be distinguished easily by having totally membranous wings and by the elongate head with a constriction behind the eyes and then behind that constriction a round swollen portion. About eight genera and 40 species have been recorded from southern Africa.

Unidentified enicocephalid found under rock in disturbed fynbos.

Further reading

  • Jacobs, D.H. 1985. Heteroptera. In: Insects of Southern Africa (Eds C.H. Scholtz & E. Holm). Butterworths, Durban, p. 117-152.