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For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Family Ptinidae - Death-watch and Spider Beetles

Ptinus Beetle 06.02.2009 068 - Trichodesma gibbosa Tricorynus bifoveatus White - Tricorynus bifoveatus Death-watch - Calymmaderus Beetle - Ptinus fur Unknown Beetle - Stegobium paniceum Small, shiny beetle with antenna blades - Calymmaderus nitidus Hadrobregmus?
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga (Water, Rove, Scarab, Long-horned, Leaf and Snout Beetles)
Superfamily Bostrichoidea (Carpet, Powder-post and Death-watch Beetles)
Family Ptinidae (Death-watch and Spider Beetles)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Anobiidae Fleming 1821
Ptinidae is the correct name for the family(1)
Explanation of Names
Ptinidae Latreille 1802
"Death-watch" from the ticking sound made by the beetles from within the timbers of old houses, interpreted as an omen of death(2). Compare Keats's Beset with painful gusts, within ye hear // No sound so loud as when on curtain’d bier // The death-watch tick is stifled. (Endymion Book IV)
>400 spp. in 63 genera in our area, >2,200 spp. in ~230 genera worldwide, arranged into 10 subfamilies (all but one tiny neotropical subfamily represented in NA)(3)(4); ~100 species in 38 genera in Canada and Alaska(5)
Overview of our faunaTaxa not yet in the guide are marked (*)
Family Ptinidae
Subfamily Ptininae
Subfamily Eucradinae
Subfamily Ernobiinae
Subfamily Anobiinae
Subfamily Ptilininae Ptilinus
Subfamily Xyletininae
Subfamily Dorcatominae
Subfamily Mesocoelopodinae
1-9 mm, usually <5 mm
hard-to-define group; no easy characters are found that apply to all
Wisconsin fauna treated in Arango and Young (2012)(1)
worldwide and throughout N. America; distribution of individual spp. in White (1982)(6)
Predominantly wood-borers as larvae; presumably this is the primal mode of life within the family. Adults and larvae of several species feed on a variety of dry plant (rarely: animal) materials, including dry dung, plant stems, dry fungi; some are considered pests of stored products (grain, cereals, tobacco), furniture, and museum specimens.
Works Cited
1.Death-watch and spider beetles of Wisconsin—Coleoptera: Ptinidae
Arango, R.A. and D.K. Young. 2012. General Technical Report FPL-GTR-209. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory.
2.The Century Dictionary: an encyclopedic lexicon of the English language
3.American Beetles, Volume II: Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea
Arnett, R.H., Jr., M. C. Thomas, P. E. Skelley and J. H. Frank. (eds.). 2002. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, FL.
4.Order Coleoptera Linnaeus, 1758. In: Zhang Z.-Q. (ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification...
Ślipiński S.A., Leschen R.A.B., Lawrence J.F. 2011. Zootaxa 3148: 203–208.
5.Checklist of beetles (Coleoptera) of Canada and Alaska. Second edition
Bousquet Y., Bouchard P., Davies A.E., Sikes D.S. 2013. ZooKeys 360: 1–402.
6.A Catalog of the Coleoptera of America North of Mexico. Family: Anobiidae.
White, R.E. 1982. USDA-ARS, Washington, DC. xi + 59 pp.