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COLEOPTERA, Staphylinidae (Leach 1815)  --  <Images> & <Juveniles>  <Identification>


Please refer also to the following link for details on this group:


Staphylinidae = Link 1




The family comprising rove beetles, is represented by a large number of species (Clausen 1940/1962).  Adult beetles are easily recognized by their relatively slender bodies and very short elytra and by the habit of elevating their abdomen when disturbed.  There is a wide range in food habits, but the majority are probably scavengers.  But a considerable number are predaceous upon other insects and a few are true parasitoids (Clausen 1940/1962).  Immature larvae are thought to be semiaquatic (I. Moore, pers. commun.).  Reviews of the host preferences and habits of the family are Mank (1923), Voris (1934) and Balduf (1935).


The large number of myrmecophilous Staphylinidae range in habit from true guests to active predators, and in the latter both larvae and adults prey on all host stages (Clausen 1940/1962).  In some groups, such as Lomechusa, the adult beetles have special glands that secrete a substance favored by ants, and the larvae, which prey on younger stages of ants, are carefully tended during their development.  A number of species of Aleocharinae are associated with termites although they are not known to feed on them.


The free-living predaceous and parasitic forms rather than those which are a part of a complex social organization are important in natural control (Clausen 1940/1962).  A large number of species in both adult and larval stages are predaceous on other insects, and especially on dipterous larvae in decaying animal bodies, refuse or in the soil.  The genus Nudobius is predaceous on some insects found beneath the bark of trees infested with bark beetles, and the adults of several species of Paederus are recorded as important enemies of the eggs and larvae of lepidopterous and other foliage-feeding pests.  In Formosa, it is reported that 65% of the larvae of the rice borer, Schoenobius incertellus Wlk., are attacked.  In Egypt P. fuscipes Curt. is considered the most important of the natural enemies of the cotton worm, Prodenia litura F., and the field population may attain 50,000 beetles/acre.  Somatium oviformis Casey is a predator on red spiders and mites on citrus trees in California, and others of that genus have the same food source.


Philonthus aeneus Rossi and Creophilus erythrocephalus F. have been imported into Hawaii, the former from Germany and the latter from Australia, for the control of horn fly (Clausen 1940/1962); and the latter was established.


Parasitic species of Staphylinidae are in the subfamily Aleocharinae, the best known being the genera Coprochara, Aleochara and Baryodma.  They are obligate external parasitoids on the pupae of Diptera encased within the puparium.  Wadsworth (1915) gave an account of C. bilineata Gyll, a parasitoid of cabbage maggot pupae, Hylemya brassicae Bouché.  Being the dominant parasitoid it destroys up to 35% of the pupae.  Females deposit eggs in the soil near the roots of infested cabbage.  The eggs are elliptical in form, measure 0.38 X 0.32 mm and have a thin, transparent chorion.  Recently deposited eggs are greenish-white in color, but become darker with incubation.  They hatch in 10-12 days (Clausen 1940/1962).


First instar larvae are not easily distinguished from those of the predaceous and scavenging species.  These larvae first search in the soil to a depth of 2-15 cm until a Hylemya puparium is found, and it then penetrates the hardened shell.  The puncture is sealed after entry.  The body of newly hatched larvae is ca. 1.5mm in length, rather slender, and distinctly segmented, with 10 abdominal segments, of which the last two are darker in color and taper to a rounded point.  The head is large and darker in color than the body, and the antennae are 3-jointed and well developed.  Legs are normal for the family.  The caudal cerci are shorter than those of most other species and are borne on short cylindrical processes dorsolaterally at the posterior margin of the penultimate segment.


Following entry of the host puparium, the larva begins feeding through a minute puncture made in the delicate cuticle of the pupa.  The feeding position is frequently changed but apparently limited to the anterior dorsal region.  When fully fed the body is considerably enlarged, the transparent intersegmental membranes being greatly stretched and the average length is ca. 2.0 mm (Clausen 1940/1962).  Second instar larvae are markedly different from the first, being very degenerate as a result of the adoption of a parasitic mode of life.  The body is glistening white, with the cuticle very lightly sclerotized, and the setae and cerci are absent.  The legs are rudimentary and indistinctly segmented and lack the large terminal claw.  Each of the last two thoracic and the first eight abdominal segments has a single pair of fleshy prominences at the dorsolateral margins.  Feeding by this stage is extensive and very little movement occurs (Clausen 1940/1962).  Third instar larvae are generally identical to second, but larger.  There are also 9 pairs of spiracles situated between the first and second thoracic segments and on the first eight abdominal segments, respectively.  in Aleochara and other genera that pupate outside the host puparium, the segmental tubercles or prominences are lacking.  During the feeding period no excrement is voided with the exception of occasional minute drops of a clear fluid, and the meconium is cast by the mature larva.  The host pupa is completely consumed, and the puparium becomes opaque because of the meconial covering on the inner surface.


In summer the feeding period is complete in 5-6 days after the first molt and is followed by a quiescent stage of 12-18 days prior to the appearance of the pupa.  The pupal stage also requires 12-18 days at the completion of which the adult beetle gnaws its way out of the puparium (Clausen 1940/1962).  Adults are very active and feed extensively on cabbage maggots.  There are apparently two generations/yr, corresponding to the cycle of the host, and the winter season is passed as a first-instar larva within the host puparium.  The first brood of adults appears in May and June and the second in August and September.


Although most parasitic members of the family attack puparia occurring on or in the soil, occasional species find their hosts on or in plants.  Maseochara valida Lec. was found by Coquillett (1891) to develop in the puparia of a syrphid fly, Copestylum marginatum Say, which develops in the semiliquid material in the decaying leaves of cactus.  Kramer (1926) studying Aleochara curtula Goeze, parasitic in the puparia of Lucilia, etc., found that this species habits are generally similar to those of C. bilineata, except that the third instar larva assumes an active and more normal form, with the legs being large and well developed for locomotion; and it emerges from the puparium for pupation in a cell in the soil.  This habit is found in the genera Aleochara, Baryodma, Polychara, and Maseochara, whereas the more degenerate form, which pupates within the host puparium, is found in Coprochara and Polystoma.


Baryodma bimaculata Grav. was noted by Lindquist (1936) to develop in the puparia of Sarcophaga and Cryptolucilia in Texas.  The planidium enters the puparium in the same way as Coprochara, and emergence of the adult occurs ca. 20 days later.  The field parasitization of these hosts is ca. 25%.


Observations recorded on other species of parasitic Staphylinidae suggest that the adults of these species are also important as enemies of the same pests because they are predaceous on both larvae and pupae (Clausen 1940/1962).  Quayle (1913) recorded the habits of Somatium oviformis, a minute species that seems to feed mainly on red mites.  This is true of both the adult and larval stages.  The eggs are light orange in color and are laid singly on the undersides of the infested leaves.  Larvae consume ca. 20 mites/day and adults about half as much.  Mank gave an account of the habits and descriptions of the immature forms of a series of species predaceous on dipterous larvae occurring in decaying vegetable matter.  These species belong to the well known genus Philonthus and related groups.  Both adults and larvae feed extensively on maggots found in the medium in which they live.  The life cycles of the different species are found to be relatively short (one month or less).  The larvae of predaceous species are very active and aggressive.  The body is elongate in form, and individuals may be readily distinguished from carabid larvae by the prominent two-jointed caudal stylets and by the single claw of the tarsi.  They also generally lack the distinct heavily sclerotized segmental plates often found in Carabidae, although these plates are present in Tachinus.  The most reliable character in distinguishing larvae of the family is the "upper lip," which varies in the number and size of the teeth borne at the anterior margin.  The abdomen terminates in a relatively large "pseudopod" or "pusher," which is utilized in locomotion. 


Clausen (1940) stated that the pupae present few distinguishing features, with the main character utilized is the fringe of hairs at the anterior margin of the thorax and those at the lateral margin of the abdomen.  In Tachinus, the integument of the pupa is soft and the body is completely covered with a soft material which becomes silvery in appearance.


White & Legner (1966) give a detailed account of the biology of Aleochara taeniata Erichson, attacking muscoid flies.  Legner & Warkentin (1991) considered species of Philonthus very important predators of field breeding Muscidae.  This parasitoid/predator was introduced in California from Jamaica.  Adults are voracious predators of house fly eggs and young larvae.  Eggs hatch in ca. 4 days and larvae search actively through the substrate for fly pupae, the parasitoid-susceptible stage.  Pupae are entered through a hole gnawed in the puparium wall by the young larvae; the hole is closed with what seems to be fecal matrial.  The three larval instars are ectoparasitic on the fly pupae within the puparium.  Mature larvae emerge into the substrate where pupation occurs.  Larval development requires 6-7 days, the pupal development another 14-16 days at 23.9°C.  The total life cycle at this temperature is ca. 25 days from egg to adult.


Staphylinidae are one of the largest families of beetles, with more than  1,512 genera and over 30,035 species known as of 2000.  They occur throughout the world.  Important morphological characters of these "rove beetles" include filiform to clavate antennae, sometimes geniculate; elytra short, truncate, exposing several abdominal terga; exposed abdominal segments freely moveable, often elevated when running.  The head is prognathous, often as wide as the pronotum.  Hind wings are usually well developed and the body is elongate, depressed, with subparallel sides.


Most Staphylinidae are predators, but many species live in fungi, eat flower pollen, or frequent caves.  Although most entomophagous forms are predaceous, several species are primary, solitary ectoparasitoids of dipterous pupae in puparia.  The adults of parasitic species also feed as predators on dipterous larvae and pupae.  At least 300 species of myrmecophiles are known.  The staphylinids have not been extensively used for biological control, although several species have been imported as parasitoids of fruit flies and synanthropic filth-breeding Diptera.



References:   Please refer to  <biology.ref.htm>, [Additional references may be found at:  MELVYL Library ]


Also see:  Staphylinidae (Identification),  Staphylinidae (Parasitoids of Diptera)


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Bernhauer, M.  1923.  Synonymische Bermerkungen bezüglich mehrfach beschriebener Staphylinidengattungen und Arten.  Wiener Ent. Zeitung 40:  63.


Bernhauer, M.  1926.  Die Staphyliniden der Philippinen (21. Beigrag).  Philippine J. Sci. 31:  245-63.


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Casey, T. L.  1892.  Coleopterological notices, IV.  Ann. NY. Acad. Sci. 6:  359-712.


Casey, T. L.  1893.  Coleopterological notices, V.  Ann. NY. Acad. Sci. 7:  281-606.


Casey, T. L.  1895.  Coleopterological notices, VI.  Ann. NY. Acad. Sci. 8:  435-838.


Casey, T. L.  1897.  Coleopterological notices, VII.  Ann. NY. Acad. Sci. 9:  285-684.


Casey, T. L.  1900.  Review of the American Corylophidae, Cryptophagidae, Tritomidae and Dermestidae, with other studies.  J. NY. Ent. Soc. 8:  51-172.


Casey, T. L.  1904.  On some new Coleoptera, including five new genera.  Canad. Ent. 36:  312-24.


Casey, T. L.  1905.  A new Carabus and Cychrus, with miscellaneous notes on Coleoptera.  Canad. Ent. 37:  162-65.


Casey, T. L.  1905.  A revision of the American Paederini.  Trans. Acad. Sci. St. Louis 15:  17-248.


Casey, T. L.  1906.  Observations on the staphylinid groups Aleocharinae and Xantholinini chiefly of America.  Trans. Acad. Sci. St. Louis 16:  125-435.


Casey, T. L.  1910.  New species of the staphylinid tribe Myrmedoniini.  Memoirs on the Coleoptera 1:  1-183.


Casey, T. L.  1910.  Synonymic and other notes on Coleoptera.  Canad. Ent. 42:  105-13.


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Casey, T. L.  1915.  Studies in some staphylinid genera of North America.  Memoirs on the Coleoptera 6:  395-450.  New Era Print. Co., Lancaster.


Casey, T. L.  1916.  A new species of Baryodma.  Canad. Ent. 48:  70-1.


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Cooper, K. W.  1932.  A correction to Bradley's Manual of the genera of beetles.  Canad. Ent. 64:  236.


Cooper, K. W.  1933.  A new species of Staphylinus (Col. Staphylinidae).  Canad. Ent. 65:  264-65.


Cooper, K. W.  1933.  A new species of Belonuchus Nordm. (Col. Staphylinidae).  J. NY. Ent. Soc. 41:  545-46.


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Dobson, R. M.  1961.  Observations on the natural mortality, parasites and predators of wheat bulf fly, Leptohylemyia coarctica (Fall.).  Bull. Ent. Res. 52:  261-91.


Drea, J. J.  1966.  Studies on Aleochara tristis (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae), a natural enemy of the face fly.  J. Econ. Ent. 59:  1365-73.


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Eichelbaum, F.  1913.  Verzeichniss der vor in den Jahren 1903 und 1904 in Deutschland Britisch-Ostafrika eingesammelten Staphylinidae.  Arch. Naturg. 79, Abt. A-3:  114-68.


Eichelbaum, F.  1915.  Verbesserungen und Zusätze zu meinem Katalog der Staphyliniden-gattungen aus dem Jahre 1909.  Arch. Naturg. 81, Abt. A-5:  98-121.


Eppelsheim, E.  1893.  Beitrag zur Staphylinenfauna des südwestlichen Baikalgebietes.  Deut. Ent. Zeits. 1893:  17-67.


Eppelsheim, E.  1895.  Beitrag zur Staphylinenfauna West-Afrika.  Deut. Ent. Zeits. 1895:  113-41.


Erichson, W. F.  1837.  Die Käfer der Mark Brandenburg, vol. 1, pt. 1.  Publ. Berlin.  p. 1-384.


Graves, R. C.  1960.  Ecological observations on the insects and other inhabitants of woody shelf fungi (Basiciomycetes: Polyporaceae) in the Chicago area.  Ann. Ent. Soc. Amer. 53:  61-78.


Holsinger, J. R. & S. B. Peck.  1971.  The invertebrate cave fauna of Georgia.  NSS Bull. 33:  23-44.


Kemner, N. A.  1926.  Ent. Tidskr. 47:  133-70.


Lawson, P. R.  1935.  A beetle new to Kansas.  J. Kan. Ent. Soc. 8:  26.


Linsley, E. G & C. D. Michener.  1943.  Observations on some Coleoptera from the vicinity of Mt. Lassen, California.  Pan-Pac. Ent. 19:  75-9.


Moore, I.  1959.  A method for artificially culturing the olive fly (Dacus oleae Gmel.) under aseptic conditions.  Ktavim 9:  295-6.


Moore, I.  1962.  Further investigations on the artificial breeding of the olive fly-- Dacus oleae Gmel.-- under aseptic conditions.  Entomophaga 7:  53-.


Moore, I. & A. Navon.  1966.  The rearing and some bionomics of the leopard moth Zeuzera pyrina L. on an artificial medium.  Entomophaga 11:  285-96.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1971a.  A new genus and species of rove beetle from California (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  The Coleopterists Bull. 25(2):  51-53.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1971b.  Bryothinusa chani, a new species of marine beetle from Hong Kong (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  The Coleopterists Bull. 25(3):  107-108.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1971c.  Host records of parasitic staphylinids of the genus Aleochara in America (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 64(5):  1184-1185.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1971d.  A review of the Nearctic species of Platystethus (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  The Pan-Pacific Entomologist 47(4):  260-264.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1972a.  A new alpine species of Unamis from California (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  The Coleopterists Bull. 26(1):  21-22.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1972b.  A new species of Microedus from the Sierra Nevada Mountains (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  The Coleopterists Bull. 26(2):  75-78.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1972c.  A bit about beach beetles and habitat destruction.  Environment Southwest No. 445, June-July.  p 7.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1972d.  Museum collections for future students.  Environment Southwest No. 449, Dec. p 8.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1972e.  Two new species of Orus from California.  The Pan-Pacific Entomologist 48(4):  249-252.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1972f.  Laetulonthus, a new genus for Philonthus laetulus Say (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  J. New York Entomol. Soc. 89(4):  212-215.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1973a.  The genera of the Piestinae of America north of Mexico (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  Entomol. News 84:  117-131.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1973b.  Speculation on the distribution of the southern California species of Cafius with a new record from the Salton Sea (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  The Pan-Pacific Entomologist 49(3):  279-280.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1973c.  A new host record for the parasitic rove beetle Aleochara bipustulata L. (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  Entomol. News 84(7):  250.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1973d.  Succession of the coleopterous fauna in wrack.  Wasman J. Biol. 31(2):  289-290.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1973e.  The genera of the subfamilies Phloeocharinae and Olisthaerinae of America north of Mexico with description of a new genus and new species from Washington (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  Canad. Entomol. 105(1):  35-41.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1973f.  The larva and pupa of Carpelimus debilis Casey (Coleoptera:  Staphylinidae).  Psyche 80(4):  289-294.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1973g.  Progression north of two species of rove beetles in California (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  The Coleopterists Bull. 27(1):  45-46.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1973h.  Beneficial insects:  neglected "good guys."  Environment Southwest 454:  5-7.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1974a.  Have all the known cosmopolitan Staphylinidae been spread by commerce?  Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 76(1):  39-40.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1974b.  Seashore entomology, a neglected fruitful field for the study of biosystematics.  Insect World Digest 1(4):  20-24.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1974c.  The genera of the Lispininae of America north of Mexico (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  The Coleopterists Bull. 28(2):  77-84.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1974d.  The genera of the Osoriinae of America north of Mexico (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  The Coleopterists Bull. 28(3):  115-119.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1974e.  The genera of the subfamilies Pseudopsinae and Proteininae of America north of Mexico (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  Entomol. News 85:  13-18.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1974f.  Notes on Bledius ornatus (LeConte) a seashore beetle, with description of the larva (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  Wasmann J. of Biology 32(1):  141-145.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1974g.  A catalogue of the taxonomy, biology and ecology of the developmental stages of the Staphylinidae (Coleoptera) of America north of Mexico.  J. Kansas Entomol. Soc. 47(4):  469-478.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1974h.  Bibliography (1758 to 1972) to the Staphylinidae of America north of Mexico (Coleoptera).  Hilgardia 42(16):  511-547.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1974i.  Keys to the genera of the Staphylinidae of America north of Mexico exclusive of the Aleocharinae (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  Hilgardia 42(16):  548-563.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1975a.  A catalogue of the Staphylinidae of America north of Mexico (Coleoptera).  Div. Agr. Sci., Univ. of Calif. Special Publ. 3015:  514 pp.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1975b.  Revision of the genus Endeodes LeConte with a tabular key to the species (Coleoptera: Melyridae).  J. New York Entomol. Soc. 83(2):  70-81. 


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1975c.  Orus femineus, a new species of Staphylinidae (Coleoptera) from Florida.  Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 77(4):  491-493.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1975d.  A study of Bryothinusa (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae), comparing a tabular and a dichotomous key to the species.  Bull. Southern Calif. Academy of Science 74(3):  109-112.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1976.  Intertidal rove beetles (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  In:  "Marine Insects", L. Cheng (ed.).  pp. 521-51.  North-Holland Publ. Co., Amsterdam.  581 pp.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1977a.  The developmental stages of Endeodes LeConte (Coleoptera: Melyridae).  Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 79(2):  172-175.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1977b.  A report on some intertidal Staphylinidae from Sonora, Mexico with four new genera (Coleoptera).  Pacific Insects 17(4):  459-471.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner.  1978.  The importance of taxonomy in biological control as exemplified by rove beetles.  Newsletter Michigan Entomol. Soc. 23(3 & 4):  1, 5.


Moore, I. & E. F. Legner. 1979. An illustrated guide to the genera of the Staphylinidae of America north of Mexico exclusive of the Aleocharinae (Coleoptera).  Div. Agr. Sci. Univ. of Calif. Publ. 4093:  332 pp.


Moore, I., E. F. Legner & T.-D. Chan.  1973.  A review of the genus Bryothinusa with descriptions of three new species (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  Entomol. News  84:  73-81.


Moore, I., E. F. Legner & M. E. Badgley.  1975.  Description of the developmental stages of the mite predator, Oligota oviformis Casey, with notes on the osmeterium and its glands (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  Psyche 82(2):  181-188.


Packard, A. S.  1869.  Insects living in the sea.  Amer. Natur. 2:  277-8.


Packard, A. S.  1869.  Salt-water insects.  Amer. Natur. 2:  329-30.


Packard, A. S.  1876.  The cave beetles of Kentucky.  Amer. Natur. 10:  282-7.


Sanderson, M. W.  1939.  A family of Coleoptera, Brathinidae, new to Arkansas.  J. Kan. Ent. Soc. 12:  127.


Steel, W. O.  1948.  Some notes on the nomenclature of the Xantholinini and Othniini (Col., Staphylinidae).  Ent. Mon. Mag. 84:  268-70.


Steel, W. O.  1959.  Book review.  Ent. Gazette 10:  82.  (In this review of Hatch's "The Beeltes of the Pacific North-west, Part 2, Staphyliniformia, Steel transfers megarthroides (Fauvel) from Acrolocha to the genus Hapalaraea, etc.).


van Dyke, E. D.  1945.  Two Coleoptera recently established in southern California.  Pan-Pac. Ent. 21:  10.


Voris, R.  1934.  Trans. Acad. Sci. St. Louis, MO.28:  233-61.


Wheeler, W. M.  1900.  The female of Eciton aumichrasti Norton, with some notes on the habits of Texas ecitons.  Amer. Natur. 34:  563-74.


White, E. B. & E. F. Legner.  1966.  Notes on the life history of Aleochara taeniata, a staphylinid parasite of the house fly, Musca domestica.  Ann. Ent. Soc. Amer. 59:  573-77.