British insects: the families of Coleoptera


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


General appearance. 1.5–3.5 mm long.

Detailed morphology. Eyes present; coarsely facetted (very granular in appearance). Antennae very short to short; 4 segmented (Elenchidae), or 6 segmented (Stylopidae), or 7 segmented (Halictophagidae); with lateral extensions on the third segment only in Elenchidae and Stylopidae, or pectinate in Halictophagidae. The tarsi with 2–4 segments. Elytra present (but vestigial, in males), or absent (females); those of males short, exposing several terminal abdominal tergites (analagous to the halteres of Diptera).

Adult habitat, ecology. Not predacious.

Larvae. Larvae late instars parasitic (on insects from many orders, but especially Hymenoptera and Hemiptera).

Worldwide and British representation. About 600 species worldwide (in 10 families). About 20 species in Britain; genera in Britain 4 (in the families Elenchidae, Halictophagidae and Stylopidae); Elenchus, Halictophagus, Stylops. E.g., Elenchus tenuicornis, Halictophagus curtisi (Lulworth Stylopid), Stylops dalei (Dale's Stylopid: but see the recently ‘corrected’ specific epithet, dalii!).

General comments. A small Order, sometimes associated taxonomically with the Coleoptera. Males free-living and actively flying; females larviform, usually parasitic, in puparia within the hosts. The male’s legs are unique among insects in lacking trochanters. A more detailed description of the Order is available in the accompanying, ‘Orders’ data set.

Illustrations. • Elenchus tenuicornis (B. Ent. 385). • Elenchus tenuicornis: B. Ent. 385, legend+text. • Halictophagus curtisii (Lulworth Stylopid: B. Ent. 433). • Halictophagus curtisi (details, B. Ent. 433). • Halictophagus curtisi: B. Ent. 433, legend+text. • Stylops dalei (Dale’s Stylopid: B. Ent. 226). • Stylops dalei: B. Ent. 226, legend+text. • Stylops dalei (Dale’s Stylopid: B. Ent. 226). • Stylops dalei: B. Ent. 226, legend+text. • Stylops, Elenchus and Halictophagus (with Coleoptera-Scolytidae): Fowler 5, 180 (1891). • Fowler 5, 180 (1891): original legend..

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. British insects: the families of Coleoptera. Version: 25th July 2012.’.