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Family Histeridae - Clown Beetles

Hister Beetle - Geomysaprinus beetle - Platysoma leconti Histerid - Geomysaprinus - female Histerid - Bacanius punctiformis Clown Beetle - Platysoma cylindricum Clown Beetle - Aphelosternus interstitialis Histerid - Hypocaccus bigener Teretrius? - Teretrius
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 Hydrophiloidea (Water Scavenger and Clown Beetles)
Family Histeridae (Clown Beetles)
Other Common Names
Hister Beetles
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Histeridae Gyllenhaal 1808
Explanation of Names
Latin histrio 'actor'(1). There is some dispute about the origin of the name(2). One idea is that the beetles "act" of feigning death is the reference. Hister was also used by the classical poet Juvenal to mean a low or dirty individual. Another idea is that the flattened legs recall the baggy pants of clowns and other actors (Wikipedia).
~440 spp. in 58 genera in our area, ca. 4000 spp. in ~330 genera worldwide(3)(4); sample local faunas: CA 165 spp.(5), FL 139 spp.(6), WI 97 spp.(7), LA 96 spp.(8), Canada 135 spp.(9), Atlantic Canada 37 spp.(10), NB 42(11)...
Overview of our fauna:
Taxa not yet in the guide are marked (*)
Subfamily Abraeinae
Subfamily Saprininae
Subfamily Dendrophilinae
Subfamily Onthophilinae
Subfamily Tribalinae
Subfamily Histerinae
Subfamily Hetaeriinae
Notes on some genera listed in(3): the alleged NA species of Euclasea, Chrysetaerius, and Mroczkowskiella are in fact members of Renclasea, Aritaerius, and Pinaxister, respectively(12).
1-20 mm
Small to medium-sized, compact, sturdy beetles, typically black and shiny (a few are brightly colored). Family characteristics(2)(13):
elytra short, do not reach tip (apex) of abdomen, exposing two tergites
species that live under bark very flattened
elytra typically striate and punctate
legs short, tibiae usually compressed, front tibiae modified for digging, middle tibiae often with long spines--provide traction on substrate
five visible abdominal sternites, the first one long, last very short
antennae distinctive: short, elbowed, with "abrupt" 3-segmented club, i.e., geniculate and capitate--fold into cavities on underside of pronotum
tarsal formula 5-5-5 (five tarsal segments on each leg)

dung, carrion, decomposing fungi, under bark, in ant nests, forest litter, flood debris, treeholes, bird nests, mammal/reptile burrows, at sap flows, under wrack on beaches, and on sandy beaches.
Adults and larvae predatory on other insects (such as maggots), other small invertebrates.
See Also
other critters that may be mistaken for [micro]histerids:
Print References
Mazur S. (1997) A world catalogue of the Histeridae (Coleoptera: Histeroidea). Biologica Silesiae, Wroclaw. 373 pp.
Internet References
Caterino M.S. Histerid systematics
World data base in(14)
Works Cited
1.Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms
Donald J. Borror. 1960. Mayfield Publishing Company.
2.A Manual of Common Beetles of Eastern North America
Dillon, Elizabeth S., and Dillon, Lawrence. 1961. Row, Peterson, and Company.
3.American Beetles, Volume I: Archostemata, Myxophaga, Adephaga, Polyphaga: Staphyliniformia
Arnett, R.H., Jr., and M. C. Thomas. (eds.). 2000. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, FL.
4.A review of Hippeutister Reichensperger with new species from California and Costa Rica (Coleoptera: Histeridae: Hetaeriinae)
M.S. Caterino & A.K. Tishechkin. 2008. Zootaxa 1895: 39–52.
5.California Beetle Project
6.A Distributional Checklist of the Beetles (Coleoptera) of Florida
7.Gruber J.P. (2003) Hister beetles of Wisconsin
8.Histerid Beetles (Coleoptera: Histeridae) of Louisiana, by A.K. Tishechkin
9.The insects and arachnids of Canada. Part 24. Coleoptera Histeridae
Bousquet Y., Laplante S. 2006. NRC Research press, Ottawa. 485 pp.
10.Contributions to the knowledge of Atlantic Canadian Histeridae (Coleoptera)
C.G. Majka. 2008. ZooKeys 2: 189-202.
11.New Coleoptera records from New Brunswick, Canada: Histeridae
Webster R.P., Makepeace S., Demerchant I., Sweeney J.D. 2012. Zookeys 179: 11-26.
12.A new North American genus of Hetaeriinae (Coleoptera: Histeridae), with descriptions of six new species from the USA and Mexico
A.K. Tishechkin & M.S. Caterino. 2009. Zootaxa 2311: 1–18.
13.Peterson Field Guides: Beetles
Richard E. White. 1983. Houghton Mifflin Company.
14.Ôhara M. (2009-) Emma-mushi: database of the superfamily Histeroidea