British insects: the families of Coleoptera


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


~ Dascillidae s. lat., including Eubriidae, Psephenoididae.

Water-penny beetles.

Adults. Beetles terrestrial to sub-aquatic, or aquatic (? - a family of moist places, the adult beetles sometimes found apparently living in water); walking in water or free-swimming by conventional ambulatory motion of the legs, not diving strongly; moving in the water by alternate, walking leg movements; when surviving submerged, presumably replenishing air for respiration beneath the elytra indirectly from that acquired and held in a ventral plastron (?); incorporating bubbles of oxygen directly into the plastron (?). Beetles 1.5–2 mm long; body length/maximum body width 1.35–1.77; elytral length/pronotal length 2.8–4.57; base of prothorax not or scarcely 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; dorsally strongly convex; not necked; not waisted; black or dark brown. Upper surfaces of body non-glabrous; not bristly; with neither scales nor scale-like setae. Inclination of the head slight to strong.

Eyes strongly protuberant; without bristles; finely facetted. Mandibles without a mola; without prosthecae. The mandibular apices simple. The incisor edges of the mandibles simple. The maxillae with distinct galea and lacinia apically to the palp. The apical segment of the maxillary palps somewhat expanded and truncate to subtriangular. The apical segment of the labial palps more or less expanded apically. Antennae long, but not exceeding the insect’s head to tail length; inserted on the front of the head, with the distance between their bases no greater than the length of their first segment; 11 segmented. Antennal scape not swollen. Antennae finely serrate.

Prothorax shorter than wide; at its widest not markedly narrower than the adjoining part of the abdomen; without notopleural sutures. Pronotal length/maximum pronotal width 0.3–0.55. Metaventrite with a transverse groove. The fore-leg coxal cavities broadly open; narrowly separated; strongly transverse; without lateral extensions; internally open. Hind coxae posteriorly shaped to receive the retracted femur; with a steep transverse declivity against which the femur retracts. Tarsal segmentation formula 5, 5, 5. None of the tarsi with conspicuously bilobed segments. None of the tarsi with ‘hidden’ segments. The front tarsi with as many segments as the mid-tarsi; 5-segmented. Mid-leg tarsi 5-segmented; pentamerous. The claws of the mid-leg tarsi with an appendage, or not appendaged; appendages when present, not or only lightly sclerotized. The claws of the mid-leg tarsi simple, or one-toothed or bifid. Hind tarsi with at least as many segments as the mid-tarsi; 5-segmented.

Elytral length/maximum width across the elytra 1.05–1.38. Elytra exposing no more than part of the terminal tergite; hard. Scutellary striole present (in the British representative, associated with a prominence near the scutellum). Elytra non-glabrous (shortly, finely and densely hairy). Wings well developed. Exposed abdominal sternites 5–6; comprising both fused and movable components; immovably joined 3. Abdominal segment 8 apparently without functional spiracles.

Aquatic or sub-aquatic to terrestrial: found in moist places, sometimes in water.

Larvae. The larvae strongly flattened and disc-like (characteristically disc-shaped ‘water pennies’, with head, legs and gills hidden from above by broad marginal extensions from all the segments); oblong to ovate; vestiture not restricted to fine hairs or setae; dorsally heavily pigmented or sclerotized; only very lightly pigmented. The antennae 3 segmented; more than 0.5 x the width of the head. Stemmata 6 (in Britain). Frontoclypeal suture between frons and clypeus distinct. The labrum and head capsule separated by a complete suture. Apices of the mandibles with a single lobe or tooth. The maxillary palps 2 segmented, or 3 segmented, or 4 segmented. The labium with a ligula at least as long as the palps. The labial palps 3 segmented, or 4 segmented. The mesothoracic legs 5 segmented (including the pretarsus); with 1 movable claw. Visible abdominal segments 10. Tergum 9 of the abdomen extending to the underside.

The larvae aquatic (found clinging to stones). The abdomen exhibiting functional abdominal spiracles (?); having functional spiracles on anterior segments, or with functional spiracles confined to the the eighth segment; with the spiracles on the eighth segment borne at the ends of spiracular tubes (?). The larvae with anal gill tufts (in Britain). Abdominal tergum 8 without amature. The larvae predacious (e.g., on other larvae), or not predacious; when not predaceous, phytophagous (e.g., on algae), or coprophagous.

Worldwide and British representation. About 275 species worldwide; genera about 35. 1 species in Britain (E. palustris); genera in Britain 1; Eubria. Recorded from Scotland, Northern England, South-west England and Wales, South-eastern England, and Ireland.

Classification. Suborder Polyphaga; Infraorder Elateriformia; Superfamily Dryopoidea.

General comments on this taxon. Oval to coin-shaped, often coppery beetles, with deeply furrowed elytra..

Miscellaneous. • Eubria palustris: Fowler 4 (1890). • Eubria palustris (from Joy). Limnichus pygmaeus (Limnichidae). Eubria palustris (Psephenidae).

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Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. British insects: water beetles. Version: 18th September 2012.’.