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long skinny beetle - Podabrus flavicollis

long skinny beetle - Podabrus flavicollis
Ailsa Craig, Ontario, Canada
June 19, 2004
Body length about 10 mm; found on wall of shed at night. Considered Cantharidae but don't know what distinguishes them from Cephaloidae and couldn't find another image of Cephaloidae for comparison. Help!

Podabrus flavicollis LeConte, i believe
Moved from Podabrus.

Actually, I had never heard of the Cephaloidae before now:-) Your image is indeed most likely a cantharid. This one looks like a firefly mimic, which makes sense since lampyrids have toxic hemolymph that they secrete from "knee" joints when molested. Cantharids seem to always "vomit" whenever I pick them up.

Cephaloidae info
I just found out that there's 4 species of Cephaloidae in Ontario (including the one shown on Cedar Creek), and 10 species in NA, with about an equal number being palearctic. The Nearctica site lists them under Stenotrachelidae, so I guess that's a synonym. Not knowing what to look for, it's possible that I've seen Cephaloidae and thought they were something else (it wouldn't be the first time; for several months I thought that long-legged flies were snipe flies, until an auto mechanic tuned me in during an insect field trip).

A new family to me
What sets Cephaloidae apart from Cantharidae?

Neat photo!


Stephen Cresswell
Buckhannon, WV

Cantharid - Stenotrachelid separation
Cantharids have a tarsal formula of 5-5-5, the Stenotrachelids are 5-5-4. The critical leg to have in focus is the hind leg. It is, and you can clearly see 5 tarsomeres. Besides that, they just look different. Stenotrachelids look more like Lepturine cerambycids.

Thanks, Donald. There's some similar images under Podabrus, especially the photo by Joyce, so I moved the image there for now.

It's too bad that...
I can't find a dorsal view of Cephaloidae (also known as "false longhorned beetles") because that would allow better comparison with Cerambycidae, Cantharidae, and other similar-looking groups. In the meantime, it's possible that some of my assumed cerambycids, cantharids, etc. might actually be Cephaloidae.
The family is now on my list of Things to Check during a future visit to a curated collection of insects.

Current name
Cephaloidae is now considered to be a junior synonym of Stenotrachelidae (American Beetles, chapter 110)(1). Cephaloinae is retained as a subfamily.

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