Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Includes members of former families Brathinidae, Dasyceridae, Empelidae, Micropeplidae, Oxytelidae, Oxyporidae, Pselaphidae, Scaphidiidae, and Scydmaenidae.
Modern online keys, gallery, etc. in Brunke et al. (2011)(4)
useful key here
Thin, active beetles with shortened elytra that do not, at first glance, resemble beetles. In typical form, body appears to be divided into four parts when viewed from above. Family characteristics:
body shape typically elongated, with parallel sides
elytra short (about same length as pronotum, or only slightly longer; wings are functional in most), typically exposing 3-6 (usually 5-6) abdominal segments, though abdomen concealed in a few, e.g.
coloration usually dark but some brightly colored
antennae thread-like or clubbed
tarsal formula variable, usually 5-5-5 (sometimes 4-5-5, 5-4-4, etc.)
Some species run with abdomen curled up over thorax as if it were a stinger but no rove beetle has a stinger. Members of the genus Paederus
contain a potent toxin, pederin, able to cause a long-lasting painful/itchy welt on the skin.
Distinguishing staphylinid from carabid larvae
(per Margaret Thayer
's pers. comm. to Jim McClarin)
Carabid larvae have 6-segmented legs and often 2 claws, while staphs have 5-segmented legs and always only 1 claw
nearly all carabids have the urgomphi solidly attached (not jointed) to segment 9, and at least some of the ones that do have them articulated basally have more than 2 segments, which staphs never have. Staphs almost always have the urogomphi articulated and they have only 1-2 segments; the ones with solid urogomphi are tiny and quite different in form from carabid larvae.
Helpful habitus images representing most subfamilies on one plate:(5)
Often found under rocks, logs, etc. Some found on edges of bodies of water, others on carrion, decaying fungi, etc.
Most adults and larvae are predatory on other invertebrates. Some larvae feed on decaying vegetation.
Fairly distinctive among beetles, could be mistaken for earwigs (Dermaptera
) at first glance
however, several other beetle families include brachypterous forms:
most of them, though, are unable to conceal their hind wings under the covers completely while at rest, others lost the hind wings completely, but a few can be really hard to tell from above
Grebennikov V.V., Newton A.F. (2009) Good-bye Scydmaenidae, or why the ant-like stone beetles should become megadiverse Staphylinidae sensu latissimo (Coleoptera). European Journal of Entomology 106: 275–301. Full text
Newton A.F. (2007) Documenting biodiversity: how well are we doing in Staphyliniformia (Coleoptera)? Entomological Society of America poster presentation D0471.
Oberprieler R.G., Marvaldi A.E., Anderson R.S. (2007) Weevils, weevils, weevils everywhere. Zootaxa 1668: 491–520. Full text
(Frank & Thomas 1999-2012)(6)