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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

death-watch beetle - Ptilinus ruficornis another round one - Caenocara Deathwatch Beetle - Trichodesma gibbosa tiny Anobiidae - Petalium incisum Drugstore Beetle - Stegobium paniceum Puffball Beetle - Caenocara oculata tiny beetlw with branched antennae Small, brown, hairy beetle - Protheca hispida
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 per Arango and Young (2012)(1)
Explanation of Names
"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 ~220 genera worldwide)(3); ca. 90 species in 37 genera in Canada and Alaska(4)
Overview of our fauna:
Taxa not yet in the guide are marked (*)
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(1)
worldwide and throughout N. America; distribution of individual spp. in(5)
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.Bousquet Y., ed. (1991) Checklist of the beetles of Canada and Alaska
5.A Catalog of the Coleoptera of America North of Mexico. Family: Anobiidae.
White, R.E. 1982. USDA-ARS, Washington, DC. xi + 59 pp.