Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Family Ptinidae - Death-watch and Spider Beetles

Anobiidae, dorsal  - Caenocara Episernus? - Episernus trapezoideus Ptinus falli Pic - Ptinus falli Eastern Spider Beetle - Ptinus raptor Ptinus feminalis Ptinus subgenus Gynopterus? - Ptinus Anobiid - Episernus or Ernobius? - Ernobius Xarifa
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga
Superfamily Bostrichoidea
Family Ptinidae (Death-watch and Spider Beetles)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Anobiidae Fleming 1821
Explanation of Names
Ptinidae Latreille 1802
from Ptinus
'Death-watch' from the ticking sound made by the beetles from within the timbers of old houses, interpreted as an omen of death(1)
>400 spp. in 63 genera in our area, >2,200 spp. in ~230 genera worldwide, arranged into 10 subfamilies (all but one tiny neotropical subfamily represented in NA)(2)(3); ~100 species in 38 genera in Canada and Alaska(4)
Overview of our faunaTaxa not yet in the guide are marked (*)
Family Ptinidae
Subfamily Ptininae
Subfamily Eucradinae
Subfamily Ernobiinae
Subfamily Anobiinae
Subfamily Ptilininae Ptilinus
Subfamily Xyletininae
Subfamily Dorcatominae
Subfamily Mesocoelopodinae
1‒9 mm, usually <5 mm
hard-to-define group; no easy characters are found that apply to all
Wisconsin fauna treated in (5) • Key to NA genera in (6)(2)
worldwide and throughout N. America; for distribution of individual spp., see (7)
Predominantly wood-borers as larvae; presumably this is the primal mode of life within the family. Adults and larvae of several species feed on a variety of dry plant (rarely: animal) materials, including dry dung, plant stems, dry fungi; some are considered pests of stored products (grain, cereals, tobacco), furniture, and museum specimens.
Works Cited
1.The Century Dictionary: an encyclopedic lexicon of the English language
2.American Beetles, Volume II: Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea
Arnett, R.H., Jr., M. C. Thomas, P. E. Skelley and J. H. Frank. (eds.). 2002. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, FL.
3.Order Coleoptera Linnaeus, 1758. In: Zhang Z.-Q. (ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification...
Ślipiński S.A., Leschen R.A.B., Lawrence J.F. 2011. Zootaxa 3148: 203–208.
4.Checklist of beetles (Coleoptera) of Canada and Alaska. Second edition
Bousquet Y., Bouchard P., Davies A.E., Sikes D.S. 2013. ZooKeys 360: 1–402.
5.Death-watch and spider beetles of Wisconsin—Coleoptera: Ptinidae
Arango, R.A. and D.K. Young. 2012. General Technical Report FPL-GTR-209. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory.
6.Key to North American genera of Anobiidae, with phylogenetic and synonymic notes (Coleoptera)
Richard E. White. 1971. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, Vol. 64, Issue 1, pp. 179–191.
7.A Catalog of the Coleoptera of America North of Mexico. Family: Anobiidae.
White, R.E. 1982. USDA-ARS, Washington, DC. xi + 59 pp.