Distribution of the subfamilies

 Below the geographic distributions of the 28 presently recognized subfamilies are summarised (► see "Classifikation of the Phasmatodea"). For a better overview the subfamilies are in alphabetical order and authors are not cited for genera or species.



The subfamily Anisacanthinae is endemic on Madagascar with only a few species on nearby islands. It contains the six rather basal genera Anisacantha, Leiophasma, Parorobia, Parectatosoma, Pseudoleosthenes and Xeratherix and are a typical and rather diversified element of the Madagascan phasmid fauna (see CLIQUENNOIS, 2006).


The subfamily Antongiliinae has ist centre of distribution in Madagascar but is also represented by five distinct genera in the southern half of the African continent. The three tribes Antongiliini, Pseudodatamini and Leprodini each contain three moderately specialized genera and are endimic in Madagascar (see CLIQUENNOIS, 2006). The tribes Xylicini and Tuberculatocharacini are distributed throughout a variety of African vegetation zones.


The subfamily Aschiphasmatinae is spread from Southern India, Sri Lanka and Southern China over complete Sundaland, the Philippines as far east as the Moluccas. No representatives have so far been recorded from New Guinea but a single species has been described from the Key Islands off the west coast of New Guinea. With a great number of different genera and subgenera, which divide into the two tribes Aschiphasmatini and Dajacini, Borneo clearly is the centre of the subfamily’s distributional pattern (see BRAGG, 2001).


The Bacillinae divide into two tribes. With the two genera Bacillus and Clonopsis the Bacillini represents the bulge of the European or Mediterranean Phasmatodea. One species (Clonopsis gallica) has even been reported from the Canary Islands (Teneriffa) but appears to have been accidentially introduced by human kind. The tribe Phalcini merely contains the genus Phalces which is restricted to South Africa. 


The Cladmorphinae contain some of the largest and most distinctive Phasmatodea of the Neotropical region and are spread from central America and the Caribbian subregion over the complete northern half of South America as far south as Argentinia. Parabactridium is the only genus known from Madagascar but is of uncertain systematic position. The subfamily divides into four tribes each of which has a rather distinctive distribution. The Cladomorphini contain several genera of mostly large insects which are widely distributed over the entire Amazone basin (Brazilian subregion) and southward extend as far as central Argentina. The four rather specialized extremely stick-like genera of the tribe Baculini all have their centre of distribution in the savannas of  southwest Brazil (Matto Grosso), Paraguay and Argentina in central South America. Cranidiini only contains the remarkable monotypic genus Cranidium which is found throughout the northwestern portion of South America (Suriname, French Guiana & Brazil north of the Amazone). The diversified Hesperophasmatini has it’s main distribution in the Caribbian subregion and represents an important element of the phasmid fauna if this archipelago. Two genera are represented in Central America (Hypocyrtus and Rhynchacris).


This large subfamily (> 300 known species) are widely dispersed throughout the Old World and represent a great part of the typically stick-like Phasmatodea in the Oriental region, which is the centre of it’s distribution. The tribe Clitumnini contains such well-known and speciose genera as Ramulus or Entoria and is dispersed througout the entire Oriental Region and Wallacea as far eas as New Guinea. The most northern dispersals are Northern China, Korea and Jaspan in the Palaearctic region. More than 100 species of Ramulus have so far been recorded only from mainland China alone (see HENNEMANN, CONLE & ZHANG, 2008; CHEN & HE, 2007). The Medaurini contains four genera restricted to the Indo-Chinese subregion of continental SE-Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, S-China, Myanmar und Bangladesh) with some highly specialized forms in the mountainous regions of south China (e.g. Cnipsomorpha). The third tribe, the Pharnaciini, represents the bulge of the so-called “giant stick-insects“ of the Oriental Region, with the five genera Baculonistria, Phryganistria, Phobaeticus, Pharnacia and Tirachoidea distributed over great parts of the Oriental region, including complete Sundaland and as far west as western India with the most northern dispersals in south China. Females of some species reach body lerngths of up to 36 cm and represent the longest known extant insects in the world (HENNEMANN & CONLE, 2008).


The wide dispersal of the Dataminae extends from Japan (Palaearctic region), Hong Kong, southeast China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand over complete Sundaland and the Wallacea as far east as New Guinea. No representatives have so far been recorded from the Philippines and only one species is known from Palawan (Dares philippinensis). Pylaemenes and Planispectrum are represented throughout almost the entire distributional range of the subfamily. Orestes is restricted to the Indo-Chinese subregion of the Asian continent and Japan, and the two genera Spinodares and Epidares are endemic in Borneo. The rather speciose genus Dares is except for the single species known from Palawan restricted to Borneo. Hence, Borneo which inherits five distinct genera and 16 known species obviously is the centre of the subfamily’s distribution. Representatives are exceptionally small to very small, robust-looking insects which inherit the ground-layer of humid tropical rain-forest habitats. 


The subfamily Diapheromerinae is restricted to the Neotropical and Nearctic regions and contains a large number of genera which are currently divided into three tribes: Diapheromerini, Ocnophilini and Oreophoetini. Only the genus Bactricia is known from South Africa but is of uncertain systematic position. The Oreophoetini are restricted to the Colombian subregion and are typical representatives of the eastern slopes of the Andes from Colombia to Peru at altitudes below 2500 m. Much larger are the distributional ranges of the other two tribes. The Diapheromerini presently contain 29 genera (ZOMPRO, 2001; OTTE & BROCK, 2005), which range from the southern USA (Nearctic region) and Caribbian subregion over the complete Neotropical region. No representatives have so far become known from Chile, Paraguay or Argentina.  The Ocnophilini settle wide areas of Central America, the Colombian and Brazilian subregions as well as the two islands Tobago and Trinidad off the South American northwest-coast. 


The Eurycanthinae are some of the most typical faunistic elements of the Australian region and are widely spread througout the Papuan and Polynesian subregions as well as New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands. The striking genus Dryococelus is endemic on Ball’s Pyramid, a small volcanic spire a few kilometres off Lord Howe Island in the Tasmanian sea.  New Guinea is clearly the centre of the subfamily’s distribution and inherits numerous species of e.g. the genera Eurycantha, Erinaceophasma, Neopromachus or Thaumatobactron. Representatives are however believed to be absent on the Australian continent (see BROCK & HASENPUSCH, 2007).


This subfamily only contains the well-known strongly procryptic genus Extatosoma one species each in  New Guinea (Extatosoma popa) and eastern Australia (Extatosoma tiaratum).


This exceptionally neotropical subfamily is presently sub-divided into three tribes, the Heteronemiini, Canuleiini and Paraleptyniini. The Heteronemiini contains five genera all of which are restricted to Chile. The four genera of the tribe Canuleiini are restricted to the eastern portions of the Brazilian subregion. The Paraleptyniini contains three highly specialized genera, which are tyical inhabitants of dry grass and scrub-land and savannas. The distribution is remarkably disjunct with Parabacillus restricted to southern USA and Mexico (Nearctic region) but Paraleptynia and Xiphophasma in southern Brazil (Matto Grosso), Paraguay and Argentina.


The Heteropteryginae are some of the most striking and basal faunistic elements of the Oriental region, being characterstic for the massive and heavily spinose body and stridulatory organs of the wings. The three known genera Haaniella and Heteropteryx are restricted to Sundaland with the greatest number of species on Borneo and the Larger Sunda Islands. 


This small subfamily only contains two valid genera, Korinnis and Kalocorinnis. Kalocorinnis is endemic in Borneo, whereas Korinnis has two species in Borneo but is also represented with one species each in the Philippines and Thailand. is only known from Borneo and most certainly endemic.


The Lonchodinae are a very large and diverse subfamily which presently contains more than 300 described species in 37 distinct genera. are a very typical faunistic element of the complete Oriental and Australian regions and next to the Clitumnini (subfamily Clitumninae) represent the bulge of the typically stick-like Phasmatodea of these regions. The wide geographical range extends from the Seychelles and India as far east as to New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and northern Australia.  The most northern dispersals are Japan and central China (Palaearctic region). The highest density of taxa is found in Sundaland, the Philippines and the western portions of the Wallacea. While the 29 genera of the tribe Lonchodini cover almost the entire distributional range of the entire subfamily, the five known genera of the tribe Neohiraseini are restricted to the Indo-Chinese subregion of the Asian continent (Vietnam, Thailand, S-China and Myanmar) as well as Taiwan and Japan in the Palaearctic region (see HENNEMANN & CONLE, 2008).


This subfamily only contains the South African genus Macynia (ZOMPRO, 2004).


With more than 600 described species the Necrosciinae are certainly the largest subfamily within the entire Phasmatodea. Accordingly, its geographical range is extremely wide and contains the entire Oriental and Australian regions with exception of the eastern portions of the Polynesian subregion. Single taxa are also found in northern China and Japan of the Palearctic region. The main distributional areas with the highest density of taxa are Sundaland and the Wallacea. Borneo alone inherits 24 genera and about 180 distinct species (see BRAGG, 2001). In contrast, only nine genera and not just 30 species are known from Australia (see BROCK & HASENPUSCH, 2007). Many genera (e.g. Necroscia, Orthonecroscia, Nescicroa, Sosibia, Marmessoidea) are inhabitants of the canopy of tropical primary or secondary rain-forests mostly being capable of active flight. 


The Obriminae are presently divided into three tribes, the Obrimini, Eubulidini and Miroceramini. The tribe Miroceramiini only contains the winged genus Miroceramia known from Sulawesi and Ceram (Wallacea). The other two exceptionally apterous tribes are mostly restricted to the Philippines with only one genus each on Borneo (Aretaon & Hoploclonia). The distributional centre of the subfamily is represented by the Philippines, with the by far greatest number of genera and species. These insects are strictly found in very moist and tropical habitats. 


In its present recognition the Pachymorphinae are surely not a natural group und is currently divided into the three tribes Pachymorphini, Hemipachymorphini and Gratidiini (see HENNEMANN & CONLE, 2008). The Pachymorphini includes two genera from Australia (Acanthoderus and Pachymorpha) and one genus endemic in New Zealand (Micrarchus). In addition to the South African type-genus and two genera from New Guinea (Oreophasma and Pseudopromachus) the tribe Hemipachymorphini contains the four genera Asteliaphasma, Niveaphasma, Spinotectarchus and Tectarchus all of which are endemic in New Zealand. Der very speciose tribe Gratidiini (15 genera) has a wide distributional range and settles the Oriental region, western Asia, the southern portions of the Palaearctic region, the complete African continent and Madagascar. The distributional centre is represented by Africa with by far the greatest number of different species, particularly of the genus Clonaria. One genus (Leptynia) has dispersed as far north as the Mediterranean subregion. A great majority of the species contained are inhabitants of dry shrub-land and savannas. 


This subfamily contains the largest and most striking Phasmatodea of the African continent. Only the two genera Bactrododema and Dematobactron are currently reconized. 


The Phasmatinae are distributed over almost the entire Australian region (except Micronesia and the Polynesian subregion) and Wallacea as well the eastern portions of Sundaland (Oriental region). The tribe Phasmatini mostly contains large to very large often fully winged species, many of which are specialized Eucalyptus-feeders (Myrtaceae). With body lengths of up to 30 cm the tribe furthermore conatins some of the largest Phasmatodea in the world. The eleven genera contained have settled almost the entire distributional range of the whole subfamily, except for New Zealand. The majority of species is found in Australia and New Guinea, with only the three genera Eurycnema, Phasma and Paracyphocrania represented in the western portions of the Wallacea and Greater Sunda Islands (see HENNEMANN & CONLE, 2008). In Australien some species (e.g. Anchiale austrotessulata) are known to occur in pest-like numbers and to cause considerable damage on Eucalytus-trees with great areas of forests badly defoliated. (HADLINGTON & HOSCHKE, 1957) The few known species of the tribe Acanthomimini are restricted to Australia. The tribe Acanthoxylini contains four genera (Acanthoxyla, Argosarchus, Clitarchus and Pseudoclitarchus) all of which are endemic in New Zealand and represents a considerable part of the New Zealand phasmid fauna.


The subfamily Phylliinae contains all those genera which are due to their conspicuous leaf-mimiks referred to as “Leaf-Insects”. These are the four genera Phyllium (including the subgenus Pulchriphyllium), Chitoniscoides, Microphyllium and Nanophyllium. The Phylliinae exhibit a very wide distribution and have settled almost the entire tropics of the Oriental region (except Taiwan), Wallacea and Australian region except for New Zealand (see ZOMPRO & GRÖßER, 2003). The tribe Nanophylliini only contains the type-genus Nanophyllium, whose four known species are restricted to New Zealand and Australia. All other genera belong in the tribe Phylliini. The most speciose genus is Phyllium which is distributed over almost the entire range of the subfamily except for the Polynesian subregion. The greatest number of species are represented in Sundaland and the Philippines, whereas only one species is known from northeastern Australia (BROCK & HASENPUSCH, 2003). The monotypical genus Microphyllium is presently only known from a single Philippine species. Chitoniscus in contrast is restricted to the Polynesian subregion (New Caledonia & Fiji).


With several rather distinctive genera the „Platycraninae“ are widely distributed throughout the entire Oriental region as far north as Japan (Palaearctic region), the Philippines, Wallacea and almost entire Papuan and Polynesian subregions, but are absent in Australia and only hasve one genus and species on Lord Howe Island (Davidrentzia valida). The most western dispersals are represented by one species each on the Seychelles  (Graeffea sechellensis), Mauritius (Apterograffea marshallae) and La Réunion (Apterograffea reunionensis) in the Indian ocean (CLIQUENNOIS & BROCK, 2002). All members appear to be specialized on palms predominantly of the families Araceae and Pandanaceae and some are known to occur as pests. Graeffea crouanii for instance has become of great agricultural importance due to causing serious damage in coconut plantations in some part of Polynesia. The striking genus Megacrania contains twelve known species (see HSIUNG, 2007) most of which are found in swamp-forests along the coasts of northern Australia, great parts of the Polynesian subregion, new Guinea, entire Wallacea, the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. All are exceptionally found on screw-palms of the genus Pandanus (Pandanaceae). In addition to one species of Megacrania Borneo merely inherits two known species of Ophicrania (see BRAGG, 2001), a rather speciose and principally Philippine or Wallacean genus. Graeffea is typical for the Polynesian subregion and specialized on coconut-palms. The systematic position of the Wallacean genus Platycrana (Philippines, Moluccas, Ambon & Ceram) is still unknown (see HENNEMANN & CONLE, 2008).


The Pseudophasmatinae represent a very dominating element of the phasmid fauna of the Neotropical region. The present sub-division into the two tribes Pseudophasmatini and Anisomorphini still seems inaccurate and deserves further research (see ZOMPRO, 2004). The highly diversified Pseudophasmatini is distributed over entire South America (except Chile and S-Argentina), great parts of Central America and the Caribbian subregion. The most typical and abundant representative in Central and South America is the genus Pseudophasma with more than 20 known species. The distribution of Anisomorphini is identical to that of the previous tribe, except for some species of Anisomorpha which have dispersed as far north as the southern portions of the Palearctic region (southern USA and Mexico). The most abundant representative in the Caribbian subregion is Malacomorpha (CONLE, HENNEMANN & PEREZ-GELABERT, 2008). Several highly specialized and very small mountainous forms have developed in the Andes of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, some of which are known to occur in altitudes up to 5000 metres close to the snow-border (e.g. Monticomorpha or Columbiophasma; see CONLE & HENNEMANN, 2002). The genus Autolyca is often found in large aggregations in El Salvador, Guatemala and southern Mexico and is the most distinctive member of the subfamily in these areas.


The three genera contained in the subfamily Pygirhynchinae (Canuleius, Ceroys and Pygirhynchus) are restricted to the Brazilian subregion of the Neotropics. While Canuleius ranges from central Brazil to as far southeast as Argentina, Ceroys and Pygirhynchus appear to be restricted to central regions of Brazil. 


This subfamily exceptionally contains winged species most of which are capable of active flight and inherit the canopy-layer of primary and secondary tropical rain-forests. The 16 currently known genera (see ZOMPRO, 2004; OTTE & BROCK, 2005) range from Central America to as far south as Paraguay and Bolivia and hence settle the entire northern half of South America. Typical genera in Central America are Antherice or Anthericonia and the most speciose genera in South America are Stratocles and Paraphasma. The highest diversity of taxca appears to have been achieved in northeast South America, e.g. Colombia. 


The subfamily Tropidoderinae contains some of the most striking and presumed most basal forms of extant Phasmatodea in the Old World. It is presently sub-divided into the three tribes Tropidoderini, Gigantophasmatini and Monandropterini (see HENNEMANN & CONLE, 2008). The tribe Tropidoderini contains six fully winged genera all of which are endemic in Australia and mostly specialized on Eucalyptus (Myrtaceae). Some species (e.g. Didymuria violescens) are known to occur in pest-like numbers, causing considerable damage on Eucalytus-trees and badly defoliating wide areas of forest. The tribe Gigantophasmatini only contains the striking genus Gigantophasma, which is endemic to the Loyalty Islands east of New Caledonia. The three genera of the tribe Monandropterini (Monandroptera, Heterophasma & Rhaphiderus) are only represented on certain islands in the Indian Ocean (La Réunion & Mauritius; see CLIQUENNOIS & BROCK; 2004).


As presently treated the Xeroderinae surely is not a natural group. It’s members are widely distributed over the entire Australian region (excluding New Zealand) and wide parts of the Polynesian subregion. The monotypic genus Epicharmus is endemic on Mauritius in the Indian ocean and Xenophasmina is restricted to the Indo-Chinese subregion of the Asian continent. The most striking representatives in the Polynesian subregion are e.g. Cotylosoma, Nisyrus or Caledoniophasma. Only Xeroderus is known from Australia. One species of the prinicipally Papuan genus Dimorphodes was perhaps erroneously described from Borneo.


The Xerosomatinae is sub-divided into the three tribes Xerosomatini, Prexaspini and Setosini. The Xerosomatini settle Central America and the entire northern half of South America. Only the genus Creoxylus contains one principally South American species which has settled Trinidad and Tobago only a few kilometres off the South American northwest-coast. While Creoxylus and Xerosoma are restricted to tropical low-land regions, certain genera like Acanthoclonia, Mirophasma or Xera have developed several very small and highly specialized mountainous forms in the Andes of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The tribe Prexaspini does not contain members that show any specialization to mountainous habitats, with the eight genera currently contained all distributed throughout the tropical low-land regions of Central and South America. The monotypic genus Setosini seems to be restricted to mountainous habitats in Colombia (ZOMPRO, 2004).


Tribe: Achriopterini
The systematic position of the Madagascan endemic Achriopterini ist still uncertain (HENNEMANN & CONLE, 2008). The genus Glawiana is so far only known from one species from southwest Madagascar. Achrioptera contains nine species and one subspecies on Madagascar and one species on the Comoros (HENNEMANN & CONLE, 2004). Some species of Achrioptera are the largest and most impressive Phasmatodea of the Madagascan subregion.


Tribe: Stephanacridini
The systematic position of the tribe Stephanacridini is still uncertain (HENNEMANN & CONLE, 2008). The eight genera contained settle wide portions of Sundaland, the entire Wallacea, the Philippines as well as the Papuan and Polynesian subregions of the Australian region. Only one species of the otherwise Melanesian genus Hermarchus is found in the very north of Queensland, Australia (BROCK & HASENPUSCH, 2007). Typical genera in New Guinean are Stephanacris and Macrophasma, the latter containing the largest and most impressive Phasmatodea on this island. The genus Diagoras is endemic in the Palau archipelago. Phasmotaenia has a remarkably wide distribution, which ranges from Lanyuh Island (south of Taiwan) and the Philippines, over Micronesia and the Solomon Islands as far east as Fiji. No representatives have so far been recorded from the Wallacea but one species is known from central New Guinea. Nesiophasma is widely distributed throughout the Wallacea and Eucarcharus appears to be endemic in the Philippines.


Suprafamily: Agathemeroda
The Agathemeroda only contains the highly mountainous genus Agathemera which is restricted to the Andean regions of Chile and Argentinia. These insects occur only in altitudes above 3000 m and hide or hibernate under stones and even snow.


Unterordnung: Timematodea
The systematic position of the Timematodea is still controversely discussed. It contains only the genus Timema whose 23 known species  (OTTE & BROCK, 2005) were all described from the southern USA (California, Arizona, Nevada) and northern Mexico.