Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Coleoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Brachinidae, Omophronidae, Paussidae, etc.

Ground-, Hunting-, Carnivorous-, Bombardier- (etc.) Beetles.

General appearance. 2–30 mm long. Body length/maximum body width 1.3–4.25. Elytral length/pronotal length 1.58–5.4. Base of prothorax not or scarcely narrower than the combined elytral bases, or distinctly narrower than the combined elytral bases. Greatest prothoracic width not narrower or only slightly narrower than the greatest elytral width, or distinctly narrower than greatest elytral width. Beetles oval to elongate; not necked; conspicuously waisted; conspicuously long-legged (often), or neither particularly long- nor short-legged. Upper surfaces of body glabrous or subglabrous, or non-glabrous; exhibiting stiff, erect, dark bristles, or not bristly; with neither scales nor scale-like setae.

Detailed morphology. Beetles prognathous. Inclination of the head slight. Eyes strongly protuberant, or not strongly protuberant; bristly, or without bristles. The labrum at least partly visible in antero-dorsal view; labrum mostly moderately to heavily sclerotized. Mandibles with a well developed mola, or with a reduced mola, or without a mola; with well developed prosthecae to without prosthecae. The mandibular apices simple (mostly), or bidentate or bilobed. The incisor edges of the mandibles simple (occasionally), or with a single tooth, or with two or more teeth. The maxillae with distinct galea and lacinia apically to the palp. The apical segment of the maxillary palps variously, in most sub-groups cylindrical to fusiform, or somewhat expanded and truncate to subtriangular, or securiform to cultriform. The apical segment of the labial palps more or less expanded apically, or not expanded apically. Antennae short to long, but not exceeding the insect’s head to tail length; (2–)9–11 segmented; filiform (or flattened). Antennal insertions visible from above to hidden from above; not hidden by lateral extensions of the frons (inserted between eyes and mandibles, under a frontal ridge); not in fossae.

Cervical sclerites seemingly consistently absent. Prothorax shorter than wide to about as long as wide. Pronotal length/maximum pronotal width 0.35–2.25. The pronotum with lateral keels (pronotal carinae), or without lateral keels; keels when present, complete. Prothorax at its widest markedly narrower than the adjoining part of the abdomen, or not markedly narrower than the adjoining part of the abdomen. Prothorax with notopleural sutures. Scutellum conspicuous to absent; when present, commonly not elevated, or elevated above the mesoscutum in lateral view; anteriorly simple; posteriorly narrowly rounded or acute, or broadly rounded or obtusely angulate, or truncate. The prosternal process complete; slightly overlapping the mesoventrite to concealing most or all of the mesoventrite. Metaventrite with a transverse groove, or without a transverse groove. The fore-leg coxae countersunk in ‘procoxal cavities’. The fore-leg coxal cavities open behind externally, or closed behind externally; broadly open to narrowly open, or narrowly open to narrowly closed, or narrowly closed to broadly closed; quite widely separated; circular to longer than wide; without lateral extensions; internally open (commonly), or internally closed by a slender bar (e.g., some Brachininae). The mid-leg coxae countersunk in ‘mesocoxal cavities’; separated by less than the shortest diameter of the cavity, or more than the shortest diameter of the cavity. The mid-leg coxal cavities narrowly separated, or moderately to widely separated; not or scarcely oblique; open laterally, or closed laterally. Hind-leg coxae contiguous or narrowly separated (mostly), or widely separated (some Brachininae); not markedly extended laterally; immoveably fixed to the metasternum and dividing the first abdominal sternite. Tarsal segmentation formula 5, 5, 5. The tarsi mostly without bilobed segments; without ‘hidden’ segments. Front tarsi with as many segments as the mid-tarsi; 5-segmented (rarely 4?). Mid-leg tarsi 5-segmented (rarely 4?); pentamerous; the penultimate segment not distinctly shorter than the antepenultimate one. The claws of the mid-leg tarsi not appendaged. The claws of the mid-leg tarsi simple, or one-toothed or bifid, or serrate, denticulate or pectinate; with an empodium between them (this with no more than two setae), or without an associated empodium. Hind tarsi with as many segments as the mid-tarsi; 5-segmented (rarely 4?).

Elytral length/maximum width across the elytra 0.93–3.1. Elytra covering most to all of the abdomen; exposing no more than part of the terminal tergite to at least three complete abdominal tergites; usually striate (with characteristic, ‘fixed’ setiferous punctures). Elytra with six or more longitudinal lines of punctures, or with six or more impressed striae, or apunctate, irregularly punctate, or each with fewer than 6 longitudinal lines of punctures or impressed striae; the lines per elytron when more than five, 6–7, or 8, or 9, or 12 or more. Scutellary striole absent. Wings well developed, or absent or much reduced; when present, fringed with long hairs on the hind margin, or not fringed. Wings with an anal lobe, or without an anal lobe (mostly). Wings without a medial fleck. Abdominal sternites 6 (mostly), or 7–8 (Brachyninae); comprising both fused and moveable components. Basal abdominal sternites immovably joined 3. Abdominal segment 8 with apparently functional spiracles, or apparently without functional spiracles. The male external genitalia adephagan.

Adult habitat, ecology. Land-dwellers; mostly predacious (feeding on a wide range of arthropods, some on worms and molluscs); ubiquitous, often found running and flying actively in the open while hunting.

Larvae. Mature larvae minute (less than 3 mm long) to relatively large. The larvae elongate and more or less parallel-sided to oblong to ovate. Body circular in cross-section to strongly flattened. Vestiture restricted to fine hairs or setae. The larvae dorsally heavily pigmented or sclerotized, or dorsally only very lightly pigmented or sclerotized; ventrally more or less heavily pigmented, or ventrally only very lightly pigmented. The antennae 2 segmented, or 4 segmented. Stemmata present, or absent; on either side of the larval head when present, 1–7. The frontoclypeal suture between frons and clypeus indistinct or absent. The labrum and head capsule completely fused, with no suture apparent. Apices of the mandibles with a single lobe or tooth (usually), or bilobed or bidentate (sometimes, in Harpalini). The maxillary palps 3–5 segmented. The labium without ligula between the palps, or with a short ligula between the palps, or with a ligula at least as long as the palps. Labial palps present and segmented; 2 segmented, or 3 segmented. Mesothoracic legs present and segmented; 4 segmented, or 6 segmented; with 1 moveable claw, or with 2 moveable claws. Visible abdominal segments 10. Tergum 9 of the abdomen entirely dorsal. The abdomen having functional spiracles on anterior segments (these annular); without spiracular tubes. The abdominal apex without a respiratory chamber. Abdominal tergum 8 without amature. The last abdominal segment with cerci.

Larvae variously predacious (or parasitic), or not predacious (?); encompassing a wide range of habitats.

The larvae are mostly campodeiform, with 10-segmented flattened body, long 2-clawed legs, and prominent 3- to 5-segmented antennae.

Classification. Suborder Adephaga; Superfamily Caraboidea.

Representation in Britain and Ireland, and worldwide. About 40000 species worldwide. 342 species in Britain; genera in Britain 62; Aepus, Agonum, Amara, Bembidion, Broscus, Blethisa, Brachinus, Calathus, Callistus, Calosoma, Carabus, Cillenus, Clivina, Cychrus, Cymindis, Demetrias, Diachromus, Dichirotrichus, Dromius, Drypta, Dyschirius, Elaphrus, Feronia, Harpalus, Lebia, Leistus, Licinus, Masoreus, Miscodera, Nebria, Notiophilus, Odacantha, Patrobus, Pelophila, Poecilus, Pogonus, Polistichius, Pterostichus, Tachys, etc. E.g., Aepus marinus (Tawny Aepus); Agonum sexpunctatum; Amara fulva; Bembidion pallidipenne; Broscus cephalotes (Large-headed Badister); Tachys micros (Narrow Blemus); Blethisa multipunctatum (Large-punctured Carabus); Brachinus scolpeta (Single-spotted Bombardier Beetle); Calathus punctipennis (Broad Calathus: a mainland-European species); Callistus lunatus (Kent Carabus); Calosoma sycophanta (Splendid Carabus); Carabus violaceus (Violet Ground-beetle); Cillenus (Bembidion) lateralis; Clivina collaris (Winged Clivina); Cychrus caraboides ssp. rostratus (Long-headed Carabus); Dichirotrichus obsoletus; Dromius spilotus (Epaulet Dromius); Drypta dentata (Blue Drypta); Dyschirius nitidus (Simple-legged Dischirius); Elaphrus uliginosus (Dark-legged Elaphrus); Feronia macra; Feronia madida var. concinna (Mountain Steropus); Harpalus latus (Red-headed Harpalus); Nebria gyllenhali (Gyllenhal's Helobia Beetle); Lebia cyanocephala (Black-knee Lamprias); Lebia scapularis (Yellow-shouldered Lebia); Miscodera arctica (Readian Leiochiton); Leistus fulvibarbis (Orange-mouthed Leistus); Licinus depressus (Flattened Licinus); Masoreus wetterhalli Sturm (Portland Carabus); Nebria livida (Yellow-margined Nebria Beetle); Notiophilus rufipes (Red-legged Notiophilus); Odacantha melanura (Green-and-orange Odacantha); Pterostichus aterrimus (Black Omaseus Beetle); Diachromus germanus (Red and Blue Ophonus); Patrobus septentrionis (Winged Patrobus); Pelophila borealis (Irish Nebria); Poecilus lepidus (= Pterostichus lepidus: Narrow Poecilus); Pogonus luridipennis (Burrellian Pogonus); Polistichus connexus (Sea-shore Polystichus); Demetrias monostigma (Single-spotted Demetrias); Cymindis vaporariorum (Yorkshire Tarus).

General comments. The fore tibia usually with an anterior cleaning organ, or flattened and toothed for digging; the hind trochanters projecting, longer than the diameter of the femur, and the coxae fused to the underside of the thorax..

Illustrations. • Agonum, Amara, Anisodactylus, Carabus, Dyschirius, Harpalus, Laemostenus, Nebria: Fowler Suppl. 1, 1913. • Fowler Suppl. 1, 1913: original legend. • Bembidion (4 spp.), Dromius, Lebia, Tachys (with Dytiscidae and Hydrophilidae): Fowler Suppl. 2, 1913. • Fowler Suppl. 2, 1913: original legend. • Aepus marinus (Tawny aepus): B. Ent. 203. • Aepus marinus: B. Ent. 203, legend+text. • Aepus marinus: B. Ent. 203, text cont.. • Mainland-European Agonum viridicupreum, as Agonum austriacum Fab. (Cranch's Agonum). B. Ent. 183. • Mainland-European Agonum viridicupreum, as Agonum austriacum Fab. (Cranch's Agonum): B. Ent. 183, legend+text. • Mainland-European Agonum viridicupreum, as Agonum austriacum Fab. (Cranch's Agonum).: B. Ent. 183, text cont.. • Bembidion (Cillenus) laterale (B. Ent. 200). • Bembidion (Cillenus) laterale (B. Ent. 200, legend+text). • Bembidion (Cillenus) laterale (B. Ent. 200, text cont.). • Blethisa multipunctatum (Large-puntured Carabus): B. Ent. 326. • Blethisa multipunctatum (details, B. Ent. 326). • Blethisa multipunctatum: B. Ent. 326, legend+text. • Blethisa multipunctatum: B. Ent. 326, text cont.. • Broscus cephalotes, Badister bipustulatus: B. Ent. 139. • Broscus cephalotes, Badister bipustulatus: B. Ent. 139, legend+text. • Broscus cephalotes, Badister bipustulatus: B. Ent. 139, text cont.. • Brachinus scolpeta (Single-spotted Bombardier, extinct?): B. Ent. 554. • Brachinus scolpeta (details): B. Ent. 554. • Brachinus scolpeta: B. Ent. 554, legend+text. • Brachinus scolpeta: B. Ent. 554, text cont.. • Calathus punctipennis (not in Britain or Ireland): B. Ent. 184. • Calathus punctipennis: B. Ent. 184, legend+text. • Calathus punctipennis: B. Ent. 184, text cont.. • Callistus lunatus (Kent Carabus): B. Ent. 180. • Callistus lunatus: B. Ent. 180, legend+text. • Callistus lunatus: B. Ent. 180, text cont.. • Calosoma sycophanta (Splendid Carabus): B. Ent. 330. • Calosoma sycophanta (details): B. Ent. 330. • Calosoma sycophanta: B. Ent. 330, legend+text. • Calosoma sycophanta: B. Ent. 330, text cont.. • Carabus violaceus (Violet Ground-beetle): B. Ent. 446. • Carabus violaceus: B. Ent. 446, legend+text. • Carabus violaceus: B. Ent. 446, text cont.. • Carabus violaceus (details): B. Ent. 446. • Chlaenius sulcicollis Payk. (Channel-necked Chlaenius, adventive): B. Ent. 083. • Chlaenius sulcicollis Payk.: B. Ent. 083, legend+text. • Chlaenius sulcicollis Payk.: B. Ent. 083, text cont.. • Clivina collaris (Winged Clivina): B. Ent. 175. • Clivina collaris: B. Ent. 175, legend+text. • Clivina collaris: B. Ent. 175, text cont.. • Cychrus caraboides s. rostratus (Long-headed Carabus): B. Ent. 426. • Cychrus caraboides s. rostratus: B. Ent. 426, legend+text. • Cychrus caraboides s. rostratus: B. Ent. 426, text cont.. • Cymindis vaporariorum (Yorkshire Tarus): B. Ent. 235. • Cymindis vaporariorum: B. Ent. 235, text cont.. • Demetrias monostigma (Single-spotted Demetrias): B. Ent. 119. • Demetrias monostigmas: B. Ent. 119, legend+text. • Demetrias monostigmas: B. Ent. 119, text cont.. • Diachromus germanus (Red-and-blue Ophonus): B. Ent. 191. • Diachromus germanus: B. Ent. 191, legend+text. • Diachromus germanus: B. Ent. 191, text cont.. • Drypta dentata (Blue Drypta): B. Ent. 454. • Drypta dentata: B. Ent. 454, legend+text. • Drypta dentata: B. Ent. 454, text cont.. • Dyschirius nitidus (Simple-legged Dyschirius): B. Ent. 354. • Dyschirius nitidus: B. Ent. 354, legend+text. • Dyschirius nitidus: B. Ent. 354, text cont.. • Elaphrus uliginosus (Dark-legged Elaphrus): B. Ent. 179. • Elaphrus uliginosus: B. Ent. 179, legend+text. • Elaphrus uliginosus: B. Ent. 179, text cont.. • Harpalus latus (Red-headed Harpalus): B. Ent. 458. • Harpalus latus: B. Ent. 458, legend+text. • Harpalus latus: B. Ent. 458, text cont.. • Lebia cyanocephala (Black-knee Lamprias): B. Ent. 282. • Lebia cyanocephala: B. Ent. 282, legend+text. • Lebia cyanocephala: B. Ent. 282, text cont.. • Lebia scapularis (Yellow-shouldered Lebia): B. Ent. 087. • Lebia scapularis: B. Ent. 087, legend+text. • Lebia scapularis: B. Ent. 087, text cont.. • Leistus fulvibarbis (Orange-mouthed Leistus): B. Ent. 176. • Leistus fulvibarbis: B. Ent. 176, legend+text. • Leistus fulvibarbis: B. Ent. 176, text cont.. • Licinus depressus (Flattened Licinus): B. Ent. 075. • Licinus depressus: B. Ent. 075, legend+text. • Licinus depressus: B. Ent. 075, text cont.. • Masoreus wetterhalli (Portland Carabus): B. Ent. 287. • Masoreus wetterhalli: B. Ent. 287, legend+text. • Masoreus wetterhalli: B. Ent. 287, text cont.. • Miscodera arctica (Readian Leiochiton): B. Ent. 346. • Miscodera arctica: B. Ent. 346, legend+text. • Miscodera arctica: B. Ent. 346, text cont.. • Nebria gyllenhali (Hyllenhal's Helobia): B. Ent. 103. • Nebria gyllenhali: B. Ent. 103, legend+text. • Nebria gyllenhali: B. Ent. 103, text cont.. • Nebria livida (Yellow-margined Nebria): B. Ent. 006. • Notiophilus rufipes Curtis (Red-legged Notiophilus): B. Ent. 254. • Notiophilus rufipes: B. Ent. 254, legend+text. • Notiophilus rufipes: B. Ent. 254, text cont.. • Odacantha melanura (Green-and-orange Odacantha): B. Ent. 227. • Odacantha melanura: B. Ent. 227, legend+text. • Odacantha melanura: B. Ent. 227, text cont.. • Patrobus septentrionis (Winged Patrobus): B. Ent. 192. • Patrobus septentrionis: B. Ent. 192, legend+text. • Patrobus septentrionis: B. Ent. 192, text cont.. • Pelophila borealis (Irish Nebria): B. Ent. 302. • Pelophila borealis: B. Ent. 302, legend+text. • Pelophila borealis: B. Ent. 302, text cont.. • Pogonus luridipennis (Burrellian Pogonus): B. Ent. 047. • Pogonus luridipennis: B. Ent. 047, legend+text. • Pogonus luridipennis: B. Ent. 047, text cont.. • Polistichus connexus (Sea-shore Polistichus): B. Ent. 223. • Polistichus connexus: B. Ent. 223, legend+text. • Polistichus connexus: B. Ent. 223, text cont.. • Pterostichus aterrimus (Black Omaseus): B. Ent. 015. • Pterostichus aterrimus: B. Ent. 015, legend+text. • Pterostichus aterrimus: B. Ent. 015, text cont.. • Mainland-European Pterostichus elongatus Sam. mss. B. Ent. 196. • Pterostichus elongatus Sam. mss: B. Ent. 196, legend+text. • Pterostichus elongatus Sam. mss: B. Ent. 196, text cont.. • Pterostichus lepidus (Narrow Poecilus): B. Ent. 187. • Pterostichus lepidus: B. Ent. 187, legend+text. • Pterostichus lepidus: B. Ent. 187, text cont.. • Pterostichus longicollis: B. Ent. 666. • Pterostichus longicollis: B. Ent. 666, legend+text. • Pterostichus longicollis: B. Ent. 666, text cont.. • Pterostichus madidus var. concinnus (Mountain Steropus): B. Ent. 171. • Pterostichus madidus var. concinnus: B. Ent. 171, legend+text. • Pterostichus madidus var. concinnus: B. Ent. 171, text cont.. • Syntomus obscuroguttatus (Epaulet Dromius, Carabidae: B. Ent. 231). • Syntomus obscuroguttatus: B. Ent. 231, legend+text. • Syntomus obscuroguttatus: B. Ent. 231, text cont.. • Tachys micros (Narrow Blemus): bent310. • Tachys micros: bent310, legend+text. • Tachys micros: bent310, text cont.. • Agonum, Amara, Bembidion, Callistus, Dichirotrichus, Feronia (Rye & Fowler II).

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Coleoptera. Version: 16th May 2016.’.