Family Oniscidae


This family is found in the native New Zealand environments. All published records are for the South Island, but the group is actually distributed throughout New Zealand.

The flagellum of antennae is composed of three segments. Eyes are of moderate size, each eye consists of a group of 12-20 ocelli. Body oval, with smooth outline between pereon and pleon; epimeres of pleon segments 3-5 well developed. Dorsal surface in described species is smooth or punctate, but not sculptured. Pleopodal lungs absent. Body size varies in different species from 3.5 to 9mm, but usually 5-6mm. These slaters do not roll into a ball.

Currently, 13 species are known from New Zealand, all belonging to the genus Phalloniscus (Vandel, 1977). Species-level identification is difficult for females, and only possible for some species (Vandel, 1977).

Can be confused with species of Detonidae. Some distinguishing features are: the number of segments on the antennal flagellum (3 in Phalloniscus, 4 in Detonidae), the sculpture of the dorsal surface - smooth or punctate in Phalloniscus, sculpture of tubercles or spines in Detonidae, and their habitat - Phalloniscus are inland (often forest) animals, while Detonidae are littoral (seashore) dwellers.