Shrub jungle and semi-arid areas with leaf litter and humus accumulations. Also, found in rubbish heaps around human habitations.
Oval. Black with seven white spots, appearing symmetrical when the tegmina are closed. Nymphs are plain dark brown and do not resemble adults until fully matured. Fossorial limbs (i.e. modified and adapted for digging). Head underneath the pronotal shield. The distinctive patterning is presumed to deter predators as it mimics that of the tiger beetle, Apthia sexguttata, which has strong aggressive qualities.
Flightless. Burrow under leaf litter during the day. Active and foraging at dusk and dawn, being crepuscular (twilight active). When disturbed, they raise their ‘wings’ and turn them to reveal a pair of brown pouches which secrete a strong alarm compound, sensed by others.
Although easy to keep as pets they can be difficult to breed in laboratory conditions and impossible to breed in large colonies. Once the female has copulated with the male, she does not entertain other males but lays up to 13 egg masses (oothecae) over 3 – 40 days. The nymphs remain hidden underground until maturity.
Like termites, their gut contains small amoeboid creatures (flagellates) that have a symbiotic relationship with their host, aiding digestion.