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Family Staphylinidae - Rove Beetles

Pselaphid - Reichenbachia Rove beetle attack - Platydracus maculosus Rove beetle? - Olophrum obtectum Rove Beetle - Megalopinus Rove Beetle - Meronera venustula Tiny staphylinid - tachyporinae? - Tachyporus Ecitonidia sp. ? Small Beetle found in Ant Nest - Batriasymmodes
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)
No Taxon (Series Staphyliniformia)
Superfamily Staphylinoidea (Rove, Carrion and Fungus Beetles)
Family Staphylinidae (Rove Beetles)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Includes members of former families Brathinidae, Dasyceridae, Empelidae, Micropeplidae, Oxytelidae, Oxyporidae, Pselaphidae, Scaphidiidae, and Scydmaenidae.
Explanation of Names
Staphylinidae Latreille 1802
The largest animal family in our area, with ca. 4,400 described (+ numerous undescribed) spp. in 540 genera of 26 subfamilies(1)(2); current estimates for our area are 5,050-5,250 (M.K. Thayer, pers.comm. to =v=, 15.viii.2011). World's largest animal family (although Ichneumonidae may be even larger, with 60,000 spp.), with ~56,000 spp. in 3500 genera(3)
Overview of our fauna* –taxa not yet in the guide; + -missing non-native genera. NB: classification substantially updated from(1)
Subfamily Omaliinae
Subfamily Empelinae Empelus
Subfamily Pselaphinae
Supertribe Faronitae
Supertribe Euplectitae
Section Euplectomorphi
   Subtribe Rhexiina Rhexius
   Subtribe *Bibloporina *Bibloporus
Tribe Jubini Sebaga
Supertribe Batrisitae
Supertribe Goniaceritae
Section Brachyglutomorphi
   Subtribe Decarthrina Decarthron
   Subtribe Eupseniina Eupsenius
Section Tychomorphi
Tribe Valdini Valda
Supertribe Pselaphitae
Section Ctenistomorphi
Tribe Tyrini
   Subtribe Tyrina *Anitra · Cedius · Mipseltyrus · Tyrus
   Subtribe Hamotina Hamotus · Upoluna
Section Pselaphomorphi
Supertribe Clavigeritae
Subfamily Scydmaeninae
Subfamily Tachyporinae
Subfamily Aleocharinae
Tribe Oxypodini
   Subtribe Phloeoporina Phloeopora
Tribe Homalotini
   Subtribe Leptusina *Dianusa · +Heterota · Leptusa
   Subtribe Silusina Silusa
   Subtribe *Diestotina *Diestota
   Unassigned: *Coenonica
Tribe Athetini
   Subtribe Acrotonina Acrotona · *Mocyta · *Strigota
   Subtribe Lomechusina Xenodusa
Subfamily Scaphidiinae
Subfamily Osoriinae
Subfamily Oxytelinae
Subfamily Oxyporinae Oxyporus
Subfamily Steninae Stenus · Dianous
Subfamily Euaesthetinae
Subfamily Paederinae
Tribe Paederini
   Subtribe Scopaeina Orus · Scopaeus
   Subtribe Astenina Astenus
   Subtribe Paedeina Paederus
   Subtribe Procirrina Palaminus
Subfamily Staphylininae
   Subtribe Amblyopinina Heterothops
   Subtribe Xanthopygina Xanthopygus
   Subtribe Anisolinina Tympanophorus
   Subtribe Hyptiomina Holisus
0.7-25 mm, most 1-10 mm
Poster of 26 N. Amer. Subfamilies - Ferro et al. (2013)
Modern online keys, gallery, etc. in Brunke et al. (2011)(4)
useful key here (Legner yyyy)
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.
See Also
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
Print References
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.
Newton A.F. (1990) Staphylinidae Adults and Larvae(6); in "Soil Biology Guide", ed by D. L. Dindal. Full text
Oberprieler R.G., Marvaldi A.E., Anderson R.S. (2007) Weevils, weevils, weevils everywhere. Zootaxa 1668: 491–520. Full text
Internet References
Family overview (Frank & Thomas 1999-2012)(7)