Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

BugGuide is a National Moth Week Partner. How to add your National Moth Week 2021 photos. July 17-25.

Photos of insects and people from the Spring 2021 gathering in Louisiana, April 28-May 2

National Moth Week 2020 photos of insects and people.

Photos of insects and people from the 2019 BugGuide Gathering in Louisiana, July 25-27

Discussion, insects and people from the 2018 gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Previous events


Family Hydrophilidae - Water Scavenger Beetles

beetle - Hydrochus granulatus Water Beetle - Tropisternus Beetle - Cryptopleurum subtile - male 1011C05 - Berosus Minuscule beetle in compost - Cryptopleurum Coleoptera - Berosus Subgenus Cercyon - Cercyon Water Scavenger Beetle
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 Hydrophilidae (Water Scavenger Beetles)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Helophoridae, Hydrochidae, Spercheidae, Epimetopidae and Georissidae should have family status per Short & Fikacek (2013)(1)
Explanation of Names
Hydrophilidae Latreille 1802
~260 spp. in 35 genera in our area(2), ~3400 spp. in ~200 genera worldwide(3)
Overview of our faunaadapted from Hansen (1999)(4); taxa not yet in the guide are marked (*)
Family Hydrophilidae
Subfamily Hydrophilinae
Tribe Chaetarthriini Chaetarthria
Tribe Laccobiini Laccobius
Subfamily Sphaeridiinae
Tribe *Omicrini *Omicrus
Tribe Sphaeridiini Sphaeridium
1-40 mm(2) (exotic spp. up to 50 mm)
Aquatic forms may superficially resemble Dysticidae but can be easily distinguished by antennae. Many have keeled sterna. The adults come up for air head first, and move hind legs alternately (Dysticidae come up for air tail first and move hind legs together, like oars)
keys in(5)(6)(7)(8)(9)
Mostly aquatic; Sphaeridiinae are terrestrial (in dung, compost, carrion, and other decaying organic matter). Habitats discussed in detail in(11)
Some adults are scavengers and feed on dead plant and animal material, others are predatory. Larvae often predatory. Some terrestrial species feed on various decaying matter and associated maggots.
See Also
Internet References
Works Cited
1.Molecular phylogeny, evolution, and classification of the Hydrophilidae (Coleoptera).
Short A.E.Z. & Fikacek M. 2013. Systematic Entomology 38: 723-​752.
2.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.
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.World Catalogue of Insects, Vol. 2: Hydrophiloidea (Coleoptera).
Hansen, M. 1999. Apollo Books, Stenstrup, Denmark. 416 pp.
5.Review of the Family Hydrophilidae of Canada and Alaska
Ales Smetana. 1988. Entomological Society of Canada.
6.Clifford H.F. (1991) Aquatic invertebrates of Alberta
7.Water Beetles of South Carolina
Janet Ciegler. 2003. Clemson University.
8.Aquatic Insects of North America
R. W. Merritt, K. W. Cummins, M.B. Berg. 2008. Kendall/Hunt.
9.The Water Beetles of Florida
Epler J.H. 2010. Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Tallahassee. 414 pp.
10.Florida Association of Benthologists website
11.Short A.E.Z. (2007)
12.MacGown J.A. (2010) Aquatic Hydrophilidae of Mississippi