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Platyphora haroldi
© Don Windsor, 2005-2008 · 1
Platyphora haroldi
Dynastes tityus, Eastern Hercules beetle, female
© John Pickering, 2004-2023 · 2
Dynastes tityus, Eastern Hercules beetle, female
Beetles are an incredibly diverse group of organisms. More species of beetles have been found than for any other group.

With a conservative estimate of three million species, Coleoptera is the largest order of insects on the planet. This makes up at least half of the living species on Earth. Coleoptera also has the highest diversity including some of the largest insects like the living Hercules beetle,Dynastes hercules. The name Coleoptera means "sheathed wing," referring to the hardened and thickened fore wings which are used as a sheath to cover the more delicate membranous hind wings. Because of the hardened wings, beetles have a much better fossil record than most other insects. The first fossil record of beetles dates back to the Permian.-- (Berkeley Musuem of Paleontology).

  • Aleocharinae -- IDnature guide to genera of these rove beetles in North America
  • Chrysomelidae -- IDnature guide to some leaf beetle species in Panama and parts of South America

Beetles have many distinct features, but the most prevalent is the hardened fore wings from which their name is derived (koleos - sheath, pteron - wing). These hardened wings, or elytra, are used to protect the delicate hind wings as well as the abdomen. This protective layer may help them exploit narrow passageways in their habitat (for example, in leaf litter and under bark). Many Coleoptera use their hind wings for flight by opening their elytra just enough to extend the hind wings which are folded under the elytra in a complex manner. Other derived characteristics include uncommon body segmentation. Unlike the common head / thorax / abdomen segmentation, Coleoptera's hind two thoracic segments are joined with the abdomen. The abdomen also houses the retracted genetalia. Coleoptera usually have biting mouthparts and a gula present on the undersurface of the head. Antennae usually have eleven articles.--(David R. Madison, University of Arizona).

Coleopterous larvae contain a head, three thoracic segments, and usually eight to ten abdominal segments. Younger larvae may even possess three pairs of small thoracic legs. Pupation usually occurs in a cavity in the earth or near the feeding place. Some species however form cocoons made from fragments of earth or wood slightly cemented together. The pupal stage lasts about one to three weeks. The insect, once emerged, is at first soft and almost colorless. After a few days it begins to gain its color and its elytra begins to harden (Sharp 1922).

The Adephaga "may be most easily recognized by the development of the hind coxae which separate the first visible abdominal sternum. In the other suborder (Polyphaga), the hind coxae do not completely separate the first visible abdominal sternum. In addition to this feature, Adephaga usually have the hind trochanters particularly well developed and projecting free from the femur. In Polyphaga the hind trochanters are usually less conspicuous. The presence a well developed notopleural suture, while more difficult to appreciate, will identify this suborder. This suture is absent in Polyphaga."-- Eddie Dunbar, Berkeley (2)

Taxonomic Category Scientific Name Common Name
Phylum Arthropoda Arthropods
Class Insecta Insects
Order Coleoptera Beetles and Weevils

  • Amphizoidae - trout-stream beetles
    • Haliplidae - crawling water beetles
    • Noteridae - burrowing water beetles
    • Rhysodidae - wrinkled bark beetles
  • Caraboidea
    • Carabidae - ground beetles
    • Cicindelidae - tiger beetles
    • Dytiscidae - predaceous diving beetles
  • Gyrinoidea
    • Gyrinidae - whirligig beetles
  • Cupedoidea
    • Cupedidae - reticulated beetles
    • Micromalthidae - micromalthid beetles
    • Ommatidae
  • Microsporoidea
    • Hydroscaphidae
    • Lepiceridae
    • Microsporidae
    • (Sphaeriidae)
    • (Sphaeriusidae)
    • Torridincolidae
  • Bostrichoidea
    • Anobiidae - anobiid beetles
    • Bostrichidae - branch and twig borers
    • Lyctidae - powder-post beetles
    • Ptinidae - spider beetles
  • Byrrhoidea
    • Byrrhidae - pill beetles
    • Chelonariidae - chelonariid beetles
    • Nosodendridae - wounded-tree beetles
  • Cantharoidea
    • Cantharidae - soldier beetles
    • Lampyridae - lightningbugs, fireflies
    • Lycidae - net-winged beetles
    • Phengodidae - glow-worms
  • Cerambycoidea
    • Cerambycidae - long-horned beetles
  • Chrysomeloidea
  • Cleroidea
    • Cisidae - minute tree-fungus beetles
    • Cleridae - checkered beetles
    • Dasytidae - soft-winged flower beetles
    • Dermestidae - dermestid or skin beetles
    • Malachiidae - soft-winged flower beetles
    • Ostomidae - bark-gnawing beetles
  • Cucujoidea
    • Anthicidae - antlike flower beetles
    • Byturidae - fruitworm beetles
    • Cephaloidae - false longhorn beetles
    • Coccinellidae - ladybird beetles
    • Colydiidae - cylindrical bark beetles
    • Cryptophagidae - silken fungus beetles
    • Cucujidae - flat bark beetles
    • Derodontidae - tooth-necked fungus beetles
    • Endomychidae - handsome fungus beetles
    • Erotylidae - pleasing fungus beetles
    • Euglenidae - antlike leaf beetles
    • Hemipeplidae - hemipeplid beetles
    • Inopeplidae - inopeplid beetles
    • Languriidae - lizard beetles
    • Lathridiidae - minute brown scavenger beetles
    • Monoedidae - monoedid beetles
    • Monommidae - monommid beetles
    • Monotomidae - small flattened bark beetles
    • Murmidiidae - murmidiid beetles
    • Mycetaeidae - mycetaeid fungus beetles
    • Mycetophagidae - hairy fungus beetles
    • Nitidulidae - sap beetles
    • Oedemeridae - false blister beetles
    • Othniidae - false tiger beetles
    • Pedilidae - pedilid beetles
    • Phalacridae - shining flower beetles
    • Pyrochroidea - fire-colored beetles
    • Rhizophagidae - root-eating beetles
    • Salpingidae - narrow-waisted bark beetles
    • Silvanidae - flat grain beetles
    • Sphindidae - dry-fungus beetles
  • Curculionoidea
    • Anthribidae - fungus weevils
    • Apionidae - apionid weevils
    • Attelabidae - leaf-rolling weevils
    • Brentidae - straight-snouted weevils
    • Curculionidae - snout beetles
    • Cyladidae - the sweetpotato weevil
    • Ithyceridae - the New York weevil
    • Nemonychidae - pine-flower snout beetles
    • Oxycorynidae - oxycorynid weevils
    • Platypodidae - oxycorynid weevils
    • Rhynchitidae - tooth-nosed snout beetles
    • Rhychophoridae - billbugs, grain weevils, and broad-nosed bark beetles
    • Scolytidae - bark or engraver beetles, and ambrosia or timber beetles
  • Dascilloidea
    • Dascillidae - soft-bodied plant beetles
    • Helodidae - marsh beetles
    • Ptilodactylidae - ptilodactylid beetles
  • Dryopoidea
    • Dryopidae - long-toed water beetles
    • Elmidae - riffle beetles
    • Georyssidae - minute mud-loving beetles
    • Heteroceridae - variegated mud-loving beetles
    • Limnichidae - minute marsh-loving beetles
    • Psephenidae - water-penny beetles
  • Elateroidea
    • Buprestidae - metallic wood-boring beetles
    • Cebrionidae - cebrionid beetles
    • Cerophytidae - cerophytid beetles
    • Elateridae - click beetles
    • Eucnemidae - false click beetles
    • Perothopidae - perothopid beetles
    • Rhipiceridae - cedar beetles
    • Throscidae - throscid beetles
  • Hydrophiloidea
    • Histeridae - hister beetles
    • Hydrophilidae - water scavenger beetles
    • Hydroscaphidae - skiff beetles
    • Limnebiidae - minute moss beetles
  • Lymexylonoidea
    • Lymexylonidae - timberworm beetles
    • Telegeusidae - telegeusid beetles
  • Melooidea
    • Meloidae - blister beetles
    • Rhipiphoridae - wedge-shaped beetles
  • Mordelloidea
    • Mordellidae - tumbling flower beetles
  • Scarabaeoidea
    • Lucanidae - stag beetles
    • Passalidae - bess beetles
    • Scarabaeidae - scarab beetles
  • Staphylinoidea
    • Brathinidae - grass-root beetles
    • Clambidae - fringe-winged beetles
    • Clavigeridae - ant-loving beetles
    • Leiodidae - roung fungus beetles
    • Leptinidae - mammal-nest beetles
    • Leptodiridae - small carrion beetles
    • Limulodidae - horseshoe crab beetles
    • Orthoperidae - minute fungus beetles
    • Platypsyllidae - beaver parasites
    • Pselaphidae - short-winged mold
    • Ptiliidae - feather-winged beetles
    • Scaphidiidae - shining fungus beetles
    • Scydmaenidae - antlike stone beetles
    • Silphidae - carrion beetles
    • Sphaeriidae - minute bog beetles
    • Sphaeritidae - false clown beetles
    • Staphylinidae - rove beetles
  • Tenebrionoidea
    • Alleculidae - comb-clawed beetles
    • Lagriidae - long-jointed beetles
    • Melandryidae - false darkling beetles
    • Tenebrionidae - darkling beetles


Geographic distribution

Natural history
"The oldest beetle fossils are from the Lower Permian (about 265 million years old; Ponomarenko, 1995); since then the group has diversified into many different forms. They range in size from minute featherwing beetles (Ptiliidae), adults of which are as small as 0.3 mm long, to the giant Goliath and Hercules beetles (Scarabaeidae), which can be well over 15 cm. While most species are phytophagous, many are predacious, or fungivores, or are parasitoids. They communicate to one another in many ways, either by use of chemicals (e.g. pheromones), sounds (e.g. stridulation), or by visual means (e.g. fireflies). They live in rainforest canopies, the driest deserts, in lakes, and above treeline on mountains."-- David R. Maddison, University of Arizona (David R. Madison, University of Arizona).

"Adephagans diverged from their sister group in the late Permian, with the most recent common ancestor of living adephagans probably existing in the early Triassic, around 240 million years ago (Ponomarenko, 1977; Erwin, 1979). Both aquatic and terrestrial representatives of the suborder appear in the fossil record in the late Triassic, with a Jurassic fauna consisting of trachypachid, carabid, gyrinid, and haliplid-like forms (Ponomarenko, 1977). The familial and tribal diversification of the group spans the Mesozoic period, with a few tribes radiating explosively in the Tertiary (e.g., members of the carabid subfamily Harpalinae, Erwin, 1985).

Adephagans are diverse in diet and structure. Most are general predators, although algal feeders (Haliplidae), seed feeders (many harpaline carabids), fungal feeders (rhysodines), specialist predators on snails (licinine and cychrine carabids), and ectoparasitoids of other insects (brachinine and lebiine carabids) or millipedes (peleciine carabids), occur. Many lineages have gone down, into caves, while others have gone up, into the rain forest canopy or alpine habitats. The body forms of some have become highly modified structurally for life in unusual habitats (e.g., gyrinids at the air-water interface, paussine carabids in ants' nests, rhysodines in heartwood). Some are ovoviparous (pseudomorphine carabids, Liebherr and Kavanaugh, 1985). A variety of chemical defense mechanisms have evolved in the group, including the explosive discharge of bombardier beetles (Aneschansley et al., 1969)."-- David R. Maddison, University of Arizona (1)

Links to other sites


John Pickering University of Georgia, Athens.

I thank Sabina Gupta, Denise Lim, and Cassie Lloyd, University of Georgia, Athens, for technical and web support in developing this page.

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FamilyScientific name @ source (records)
Asteraceae  Chaptalia nutans @ I_AST (2)
_  piper auritum @ I_AST (1)

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Following modified from Insect Collection, University of Guelph
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Updated: 2023-10-02 12:41:44 gmt
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