Family Histeridae - Clown Beetles
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
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Explanation of Names
. 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 (*)
Notes on some genera listed in(3)
: the alleged NA species of Euclasea
, and Mroczkowskiella
are in fact members of Renclasea
, and Pinaxister
Small to medium-sized, compact, sturdy beetles, typically black and shiny (a few are brightly colored). Family characteristics(2)(13)
short, do not reach tip (apex
) of abdomen, exposing two tergites
species that live under bark very flattened
elytra typically striate
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
distinctive: short, elbowed, with "abrupt" 3-segmented club, i.e., geniculate
--fold into cavities on underside of pronotum
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.
other critters that may be mistaken for [micro]histerids:
Mazur S. (1997) A world catalogue of the Histeridae (Coleoptera: Histeroidea). Biologica Silesiae, Wroclaw. 373 pp.
|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.
|9.||The insects and arachnids of Canada. Part 24. Coleoptera Histeridae |
Bousquet Y., Laplante S. 2006. NRC Research press, Ottawa. 485 pp.
|11.||New Coleoptera records from New Brunswick, Canada: Histeridae|
Webster R.P., Makepeace S., Demerchant I., Sweeney J.D. 2012. Zookeys 179: 11-26.
|13.||Peterson Field Guides: Beetles|
Richard E. White. 1983. Houghton Mifflin Company.