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For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Family Mordellidae - Tumbling Flower Beetles

Tumbling flower beetle: Can this go to genus or (gasp!) even species? - Mordella Tumbling flower beetle - Mordellistena cervicalis Mordellaria undulata? - Falsomordellistena pubescens Mordellidae? - Mordellina ancilla Mordellidae - Mordellistena cervicalis - Tumbling Flower Beetle? - Mordellistena cervicalis Mordellid - Mordella Mordellidae - Mordella Mordellid - Paramordellaria triloba
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga
No Taxon (Series Cucujiformia)
Superfamily Tenebrionoidea
Family Mordellidae (Tumbling Flower Beetles)
Other Common Names
Pintail Beetles
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
The taxonomy of the family is in flux; a number of species have been moved to different genera or tribes(1)(2)
Explanation of Names
Mordellidae Latreille 1802
just over 200 spp. in 17 genera north of Mexico; ~1500 spp. in 100 genera worldwide(3)(4)(5); 56 spp. in Canada(6), 68 in WI(7), 43 in NH(8), 38 in FL(9), 26 in CA(10)
All NA species are members of the subfam. Mordellinae (the sole member of another subfamily lives in S. Africa)(3)
Overview of our fauna
Family Mordellidae
1.5‒15 mm (usually 3‒8 mm)
Body humpbacked, more or less wedge-shaped; broadest at front; head is bent forward, attached ventrally; abdomen pointy, extending beyond elytra. Hind legs enlarged. They kick and tumble about when disturbed. Black or gray, some brown; hairy, sometimes light patches of hair form pattern. Antennae short to moderate, threadlike, sawtoothed or clubbed. Tarsal claws often bilobed or comblike.
Identification beyond family often involves the number of ridges on the hind tibia and tarsi (see photo below); try to photograph these parts

The most comprehensive treatment of our fauna is (11), but the taxonomy there is obsolete
Common on flowers and foliage; sometimes on dead trees and logs. Larvae occur in dead or dying hardwoods, in pith of weeds or in bracket fungi.
Larvae are believed to eat plant material in decaying wood, etc. Some are leaf/stem miners; some are predaceous. Adults of many spp. visit flowers.(7)
Additional characters:
maxillary palpi 4-jointed, apical joint variable
head vertical and held closely to prosternum in repose, suddenly constricted immediately behind the eyes
antennae slender, 11-jointed, inserted at the sides of the front
thorax strongly narrowed in front, its lateral suture distinct
elytra narrowed behind, not truncate, leaving exposed the tip of the abdomen, the latter with five or six ventral segments
front legs short, hind ones usually long; front coxae large, conical, contiguous, without trochantins, the cavities open behind
hind coxae flat, contiguous, very large in most of our species
hind tarsi long, compressed
tarsal claws either simple or cleft to the base, with the upper portion comb-toothed in most species
Print References
Ford E.J., Jackman J.A. (1996) New larval host plant associations of tumbling flower beetles (Coleoptera: Mordellidae) in North America. Col. Bull. 50: 361‒368.