Suborder Polyphaga

Adults with the hind coxae attached to the metasternum but usually movable and, although extending posteriorly, rarely ever reaching as far as the hind margin of the first visible abdominal sternite; antennae extremely variable in appearance. Larvae with indistinct tarsi and just one tarsal claw.


A small group of mainly aquatic beetles. Antennae each terminating in a small, pubescent club (Fig. 58) and typically shorter than the often very long maxillary palps.

Famili Scolytidae
Fig. 57 A ground beetle, Pterostichus madidus -family Carabidae (x4).

Fig. 58 Head of a mud beetle - superfamily Hydrophiloidea.

2. Family HYDROPHILIDAE (mud beetles)

A large group of aquatic and terrestrial beetles, most species feeding on decaying vegetation; maxillary palps often very long. Larvae usually with anal cerci; some species are predacious. EXAMPLE: Helophorus nubilis (wheat shoot beetle).


A very large group of elongate, mainly predatory beetles, usually with the elytra truncated and exposing at least three abdominal segments (Fig. 59). Hindwings well developed but hidden beneath the elytra when in repose; antennae 10- or 11-segmented, filiform or clavate; abdomen often terminating in a pair of styliform appendages.

3. Family SILPHIDAE (burying beetles)

Often broad-bodied beetles with strongly clubbed antennae. Most species are scavengers, feeding on decaying organic matter, and some are renowned for burying animal carcasses. Larvae of variable form, those of some species undergoing hypermetamorphosis and changing from one distinct form to another.

EXAMPLE: Aclypea opaca (beet carrion beetle).

4. Family STAPHYLINIDAE (rove beetles)

A very large family of mainly small, usually black beetles but some species brightly coloured (e.g.

Fig. 59 A rove beetle, Tachyporus hypnorum -family Staphylinidae (xl5).

Tachyporus spp., see Fig. 59) and a few relatively large (e.g. Staphylinus olens, the devil's coach-horse beetle). Many species are predacious but most are associated with decaying organic matter; larvae of some species of Aleochara are parasitic on pupae of certain Diptera, e.g. Anthomyiidae. Larvae campodeiform, similar in appearance to those of the family Carabidae but with just one tarsal claw.

EXAMPLES: Aleocharinae - Aleochara spp. (small-headed rove beetles); Omaliinae -Oligota flavicornis (minute predatory rove beetle); Lachyporinae - Tachyporus spp.


Antennae usually 10-segmented, with a variable number of the apical segments expanded on one side to form a lamellate club (Fig. 60); stout-bodied, with the eighth abdominal tergite drawn into a more or less pointed pygidium. Larvae scarabeiform and often strongly C-shaped, with the last two to four abdominal segments noticeably swollen (Fig. 61); head with powerful jaws; eyes usually absent; thoracic legs strong but not used for walking; cerci absent; many species are dung- or soil-inhabiting; others (family Lucanidae) feed in decaying wood.

Fig. 60 Antenna of a chafer beetle - superfamily Scarabaeoidea.

Order COLEOPTERA Beetles) lamellae

Fig. 60 Antenna of a chafer beetle - superfamily Scarabaeoidea.

Fig. 61 A chafer grub - family Scarabaeidae.
Fig. 62 Head and pronotum of a click beetle superfamily Elateroidea.

lontha (cockchafer); Rutelinae - Phyllopertha hordeola (garden chafer).

Superfamily EL A TEROIDEA

Elongate beetles with the head largely retracted into the thorax; pronotum usually with acute and projecting hind angles (Fig. 62).

6. Family ELATERIDAE (click beetles)

5. Family SCARABAEIDAE (chafers, dung beetles, etc.) (p. 129 et seq.)

An exceedingly large family of often large to very large, convex beetles; adults often brightly coloured, with a metallic sheen; antennae 8-to 10-segmented; abdomen with six visible sternites. Larvae typical of the superfamily; features of the anal segment (including the shape of the anal slit and the distribution of chitinized spines which are often arranged in a distinctive pattern) are often useful for distinguishing between species. Chafer larvae are soil-inhabiting and sluggish; they feed on decaying vegetable matter and plant roots.

EXAMPLES: Cetoniinae - Cetonia aurata (rose chafer); Melolonthinae - Amphimallon solstitialis (summer chafer), Melolontha melo-

A large family of phytophagous beetles; adults possess the ability to propel themselves into the air with an audible click by articulating the body between the pro- and mesothorax (there being a distinctive, peg-like 'spring' - the prosternal process - located between the first two pairs of legs); tibiae with two spurs. Larvae elongate, cylindrical and strongly sclerotized (commonly known as 'wireworms'); antennae and legs short; ninth abdominal segment with a pair of sensory dorsolateral pits (subfamily Elaterinae); tenth abdominal segment forming a ventral pseudopod (Fig. 63).

EXAMPLES: Athoinae - Athous haemor-rhoidalis (garden click beetle); Ctenicerinae -Ctenicera spp. (upland click beetles); Elaterinae - Agriotes spp. (common click beetles).

Fig. 63 A wireworm, Agriotes lineatus - family Elateridae (x3).


Fig. 63 A wireworm, Agriotes lineatus - family Elateridae (x3).


An ill-defined group of narrow, elongate, soft-bodied beetles; elytra also soft and often clothed in a short, velvet-like pubescence. Larvae and adults of some species are predacious on invertebrates.


A group of carnivorous, often brightly coloured, beetles; adults often congregate on umbelliferous flowers.

EXAMPLE: Rhagonycha fulva (soldier beetle).


Beetles with luminous organs present in at least one sex; males usually winged but females often apterous and without elytra (= larviform); pronotum in both sexes shield-like and completely covering the head (Fig. 64). Larvae are predacious on slugs and snails.

EXAMPLE: Lampyris noctiluca (glow-worm).



Small or medium-sized beetles, the adults clothed in hairs or scales; head with a large ocellus dorsally; apical three segments of antennae forming a club; tarsi 5-segmented. Larvae very hairy (Fig. 65) and often called 'woolly bears'; mainly scavengers, several species causing damage to stored products.

EXAMPLES: Anthrenus spp. (carpet beetles), Trogoderma granarium (khapra beetle).

antenna antenna

Fig. 64 Pronotum of an adult glow-worm - family Lampyridae.
Fig. 65 Larva of a carpet beetle (= 'woolly bear'), Anthrenus verbasci - family Dermestidae (xf 0).


Adults with the pronotum extended forward as a hood over the head; most species are wood-borers, with soft-bodied, scarabeiform larvae, but some are of significance as pests of stored products. The family Anobiidae includes two notorious household pests: Anobium punctatum (common furniture beetle) and Xestobium rufovillosum (death-watch beetle).


Antennae of adult 3-segmented; pronotum distinctly hood-like. A mainly tropical family,

Fig. 66 Antenna of a clavicornid beetle - family Nitidulidae.

Fig. 66 Antenna of a clavicornid beetle - family Nitidulidae.

Fig. 67 Pronotum of a flat bark beetle - family Cucujidae.

in northern Europe found only in imported grain.

EXAMPLE: Rhyzopertha dominica (larva = lesser grain borer).


A mainly tropical family of often predatory beetles; antennae clubbed; tarsi 5-segmented, the basal segment small, the apical segment relatively long and bearing a small lobe, visible ventrally between the claws. The European fauna includes a minor pest of stored food products, which is also partly predacious on other pests.

EXAMPLE: Tenebroides mauritanicus (cadelle beetle).

Fig. 67 Pronotum of a flat bark beetle - family Cucujidae.

the last one to two abdominal tergites exposed; usually five (rarely four) tarsal segments on each leg (i.e. tarsal formula 5-5-5; rarely 4-4-4). Larvae usually cylindrical, with well-developed thoracic legs.

EXAMPLE: Meligethes spp. (pollen beetles).

13. Family CUCUJIDAE (flat bark beetles)

Small, flattened beetles with the lateral margins of the thorax often dentate (Fig. 67); antennae indistinctly clubbed and often filiform. Often predatory but some species associated with stored farm products.

EXAMPLE: Cryptolestes spp. (grain beetles).

Superfamily CUCUJOIDEA

A varied grouping, often subdivided into the Clavicornia (antennae distinctly clubbed. Fig. 66; tarsal formula3 of female never 5-5-4) and the Heteromera (antennae weakly clubbed; tarsal formula of female 5-5-4); abdomen with five visible sternites. The following families (except the Tenebrionidae) all belong to the Clavicornia.

14. Family SILVANIDAE (flat grain beetles)

Essentially similar to members of the family Cucujidae but antennae clubbed and the third tarsal segment lobed beneath.

EXAMPLES: Ahasverus advena (foreign grain beetle); Oryzaephilus surinamensis (saw-toothed grain beetle).

12. Family NITIDULIDAE (p. 134 et seq.)

A large and varied family of mainly small beetles; elytra typically shorter than abdomen, with

5 The number of tarsal segments on the foreleg, mid-leg and hindleg, respectively. Beetles with an unequal number of tarsal segments on the three pairs of legs are often described as 'heteromerous'.

15. Family CRYPTOPHAGIDAE (mould beetles) (p. 135 et seq.)

A rather indistinct family of small beetles with distinctly clubbed antennae; elytra relatively hairy; tarsal formula of males normally 5-5-4. Many species are fungal feeders, several are associated with damp stored food pro ducts and some cause direct damage to field crops.

EXAMPLE: Atomaria linearis (pygmy mangold beetle).

16. Family BYTURIDAE (p. 136)

A small group of small, hairy, phytophagous beetles; antennae distinctly clubbed; tarsal formula 5-5-5, the tarsal claws distinctly toothed (Fig. 68). Larvae cylindrical, with well-developed thoracic legs; anal segment with a ventral pseudopod and a pair of dorsal processes (Fig. 69).

EXAMPLE: Byturus tomentosus (raspberry beetle).

Fig. 68 Tarsal claw of a raspberry beetle - family Byturidae.

dorsal process

Fig. 69 Larva of a raspberry beetle, Byturus tomentosus - family Byturidae (xl2).

dorsal process

Fig. 69 Larva of a raspberry beetle, Byturus tomentosus - family Byturidae (xl2).

17. Family COCCINELLIDAE (ladybirds)

Small to medium-sized, usually convex, hemispherical to oval beetles; head retracted into the pronotum; eyes large; antennae terminating in a 3-segmented club; mandibles bidentate apically (Fig. 70) (= predacious species - subfamily Coccinellinae) or with more than two apical teeth (= phytophagous species - subfamily Epilachninae); legs short; elytra often black, red or yellow, with a contrasting pattern of spots or blotches; tarsal formula 4-4-4. Larvae very active, long-legged, soft-bodied and often dark grey or blue, marked with yellow or white (Fig. 71); body usually setose, the setae often

Fig. 70 Mandible of an adult ladybird - subfamily Coccinellinae.
Fig. 71 Larva of a ladybird - subfamily Coccinellinae (xlO).

arising from prominent tubercles; mandibles falcate. Adults and larvae of most species are predacious on aphids and other small invertebrates.

EXAMPLES: Coccinellinae - Adalia bipunc-tata (two-spot ladybird); Epilachninae -Subcoccinella vigintiquattuorpunctata

(twentyfour-spot ladybird).


A very large family, with adults of generally dull appearance but diverse structure; most are incapable of flight and many are apterous; antennae usually weakly clubbed. Larvae are often superficially of similar appearance to those of the family Elateridae (q.v.) but antennae well developed and posterior spiracles mounted on distinct processes (Fig. 72). Several species are important pests in food warehouses.

EXAMPLES: Diaperinae - Alphitobius spp. (lesser mealworm beetles), Latheticus oryzae (long-headed flour beetle); Tenebrioninae -Tenebrio spp. (mealworm beetles); Ulominae - Gnatocerus spp. (horned flour beetles), Tribolium spp. (flour beetles).


A large and varied group of mainly phytophagous beetles with 5-segmented tarsi (but the

posterior respiratory processes

Fig. 72 Anal segment of a mealworm - family Tenebrionidae.

posterior respiratory processes

Fig. 72 Anal segment of a mealworm - family Tenebrionidae.

fourth segment very small and often overlooked); antennae not clubbed. Larvae usually eruciform, with well-developed thoracic legs.

19. Family CERAMBYCIDAE (long-horn beetles)

Small to very large, wood-boring beetles with very long antennae; elytra often elongated and brightly coloured. Larvae soft and fleshy, with an enlarged prothorax and much reduced, nonfunctional thoracic legs. The larvae burrow within the trunks and branches of dead or weakened trees, and are of particular importance to the timber trade.

EXAMPLES: Cerambycinae - Aromia moschata (musk beetle); Lamiinae - Super da carcharias and S. populnea (poplar longhorn beetles), Tetrops praeusta (little longhorn beetle).

20. Family BRUCHIDAE (pulse beetles)

Seed-feeding, hunch-backed beetles with the head extended anteriorly (Fig. 73) but, unlike that of weevils (superfamily Curculionoidea), not forming a distinct rostrum (snout); elytra often truncated. Associated mainly with leguminous plants.

EXAMPLES: Acanthoscelides obtectus (dried bean beetle), Bruchus pisorum (pea beetle).

Fig. 73 A bean beetle, Bruchus rufimanus - family Bruchidae (x12).
Fig. 74 A flea beetle, Psylliodes attenuata subfamily Halticinae (x20).

21. Family CHRYSOMELIDAE (leaf beetles) (p. 138 et seq.)

Small to medium-sized, generally rounded. often brightly coloured or metallic-looking beetles; third segment of tarsi often noticeable expanded and hiding the minute (and often overlooked) fourth segment; hindlegs sometimes enlarged and adapted for jumping (as in flea beetles: subfamily Halticinae) (Fig. 74). Larvae eruciform, usually with well-developed thoracic legs and, often, with noticeable plate-like verru-cae on the thoracic and abdominal segments; anal segment often with a pseudopod (Fig. 75). Most species are leaf-feeders as both adults and larvae but several species have stem-boring or root-feeding larvae.

EXAMPLES: Cassidinae - Cassida spp. (tortoise beetles); Criocerinae - Crioceris asparagi (asparagus beetle); Galerucinae - Galerucella luteola (elm leaf beetle); Halticinae -Aphthona euphorbiae (large flax flea beetle).

Superfamily CURCULIONOIDEA (weevils)

A major group of phytophagous insects, with front of head forming a more or less elongated snout (the rostrum) which bears the



Fig. 75 Larva of a leaf beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata - family Chrysomelidae (x7).

Fig. 76 Head of a weevil larva - family Curculionidae.

mouthparts and from which arise the antennae; antennae clubbed and often geniculate; includes many brightly coloured species. Larvae apodous; body usually C-shaped, with a well-defined head, strong mandibles (Fig. 76) and, often, a somewhat hump-backed appearance (Fig. 77).

22. Family ATTELABIDAE (leaf-rolling weevils) (p. 150 et seq.)

Small to medium-sized weevils with a distinct rostrum; antennae not geniculate and without an elongated scape, all segments being of similar length (Fig. 78a).

Fig. 77 A weevil larva - family Curculionidae (xl5).

EXAMPLES: Apoderinae - Apoderus coryli (hazel leaf roller weevil): Rhynchitinae -Rhynchites aequatus (apple fruit rhynchites).

23. Family APIONIDAE (p. 151 et seq.)

Minute to small, more or less pear-shaped weevils; antennae not geniculate, the scape elongated but only slightly longer than segments two plus three. Larvae often feed concealed within flower heads or seed capsules.

EXAMPLES: Apion apricans and A. assimile (clover seed weevils).

24. Family CURCULIONIDAE (weevils)

The main family of weevils; adults with geniculate antennae and a very long scape (Fig. 78b): rostrum variable in form, sometimes exceedingly long; body often clothed in scale-like hairs.

EXAMPLES: Anthonominae - Anthonomus pomorum (apple blossom weevil); Brachyd-erinae - Philopedon plagiatus (sand weevil); Ceuthorhynchinae - Ceutorhynchus assimilis (cabbage seed weevil); Otior-hynchinae - Otiorhynchus sulcatus (vine weevil), Phyllobius pyri (common leaf weevil); Sitoninae - Sitona lineatus (pea & bean weevil).

Fig. 78 Antennae of various weevils: (a) family Atellabidae: (b) family Curculionidae; (c) family Scolytidae.

Fig. 78 Antennae of various weevils: (a) family Atellabidae: (b) family Curculionidae; (c) family Scolytidae.

25. Family SCOLYTIDAE (bark beetles)

Typically small, dull-coloured, cylindrical, wood-boring beetles (Fig. 79); antennae short but with a distinct scape and large, flattened apical club (Fig. 78c); elytra often concave posteriorly. Larvae apodous, with an enlarged thoracic region. Development occurs entirely within host plants in distinctive galleries, larvae of some species feeding on wood pulp and others upon ambrosia fungi that grow within the brood chambers.

EXAMPLES: Ipinae - Xyleborus spp. (ambrosia beetles); Scolytinae - Scolytus mail (large fruit bark beetle).

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